Liverpool are reportedly plotting a summer move for Everton centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite, as Jurgen Klopp looks to bolster his defence.
The 20-year-old has just completed a successful loan spell with PSV Eindhoven. Now, his performances have caught the attention of several European clubs.
PSV are desperate to sign Branthwaite permanently this summer. But, their director of football Marcel Brands has admitted that a deal may be difficult.
In a recent interview with Dutch outlet Eindhovens Dagblad (via Sport Witness), he said: “Financially this [Branthwaite’s signing] will be difficult to achieve, I expect.”
This is despite the fact that Branthwaite has admitted to being open to joining PSV on a permanent basis.
Nevertheless, with Liverpool and Manchester United interested in signing the Englishman, he could still potentially leave Everton this summer.
The Toffees are set to undergo some serious changes ahead of next season. Sean Dyche is tasked with taking the Merseyside club back up the Premier League table after back-to-back relegation battles.
Indeed, several players are set to leave Everton this summer. For instance, the contracts of Tom Davies, Seamus Coleman, Andros Townsend, Yerry Mina and two others are set to expire in June.
Also, Dyche has already turned down the opportunity to sign Conor Coady permanently after his loan from Wolves expired in May.
As a result, Everton are two centre-backs short. So, Branthwaite could be set to play a key role under Dyche next season.
During his time at PSV, Branthwaite made 27 league appearances, scoring two goals in the process. The defender also played his part in helping the Dutch side win the KNVB Cup.
He is two-footed, quick, good in the air and defends admirably. The only question, however, is whether he is ready to make the step up to regular Premier League football.
Liverpool boss Klopp obviously thinks so, though, as he has reportedly made him a key target for the summer.
The manager is keen to bolster his centre-back options. Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip are both 31 years old, while Joe Gomez is prone to injuries. As such, Liverpool need a new centre-half to partner Ibrahima Konate going forward.
Now, Club chiefs at Anfield will be delighted to hear that PSV do not have the funds to sign Branthwaite. Also, with Man Utd now pursuing a move for Napoli defender Kim Min-jae, it seems they have moved on to other targets.
Therefore, Liverpool find themselves in pole position for the talented defender. But, given his importance to Everton, a deal for Branthwaite will not be cheap.
The Toffees have already turned down a £15m offer from PSV for the centre-back. So, Liverpool will have to make an offer well in excess of that amount to have any chance of sealing a deal.
If Branthwaite does join Everton this summer, he will be the first player to ditch the Blues for their bitter rivals since Abel Xavier in 2002.
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