Rising from the Ashes: Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite
The rain might have been pouring over Everton’s training ground on that chilly evening of January 27, 2020, but a shimmer of hope was evident. The scoreboard did not reflect kindly on Everton Under-23s, a 4-0 drubbing by their Swansea City counterparts. Yet, among the despair, a young Jarrad Branthwaite stood tall.
Early Days on Merseyside
Merely two weeks into his journey at Everton, after making the switch from Carlisle United, the 17-year-old seemed like a fish out of water. That night, despite the heavy loss in the Premier League International Cup, Branthwaite’s presence was undeniable. The whispers around the ground echoed a name, and it wasn’t long before those whispers reached an influential ear.
Davide Ancelotti, first-team assistant manager at the time, was among the spectators. So captivated was he by Branthwaite’s potential that discussions with his father, Carlo Ancelotti, ensued. The young starlet soon found himself amongst Everton’s elite.
Branthwaite’s journey in the blue half of Merseyside began with a challenge: a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Wolverhampton Wanderers. But those at Goodison who had green-lit the almost £1 million signing knew they had a diamond in the rough. The fierce race to secure Branthwaite’s signature was testament to this belief.
The Vision for Branthwaite
Under the guidance of then director of football, Marcel Brands, there was a dream. A dream where Branthwaite, along with Anthony Gordon, would form the backbone of Everton for years to come. A dream that started bearing fruit as Gordon made headlines with a whopping £40million move to Newcastle United.
But Branthwaite’s ascent wasn’t without turbulence. Injuries, including an unfortunate ankle ligament damage during a stint at Blackburn Rovers, and disciplinary concerns painted a challenging picture.
However, as with every sunrise after a stormy night, Branthwaite found solace in a successful loan spell at PSV Eindhoven, reconnecting with Brands and lifting silverware in the process. With the departure of some key figures, doors opened for him upon his return.
The Rise Continues
Despite the eyes of many hovering over potential transfers, the likes of Manchester United’s Harry Maguire for instance, there was a belief within the Everton camp. The faith that Branthwaite, having honed his craft in the Eredivisie and Europa League, deserved the space to grow and shine.
When the opportunity presented itself in a clash against Wolves, Branthwaite seized it. His defensive stats speak volumes. Only a handful of Premier League centre-backs have shown such prowess this season.
His approach to the game is commendable. Whether it’s stepping into the midfield or covering the flanks, Branthwaite has displayed a mature, proactive style of defending. Comparisons with top-tier players like William Saliba, Virgil van Dijk, and others have already begun.
A stint at PSV also refined Branthwaite’s ball-handling skills. With an impressive passing accuracy and a dominant presence in Everton’s defensive third, the young defender has become indispensable to the Toffees.
Securing the Future
With Branthwaite’s meteoric rise and evident potential, it’s no surprise that securing his long-term future has become a priority for Everton. Though his contract extends till 2025, with an option for a further year, Everton is keen to solidify their commitment.
Sean Dyche, the man at the helm, echoes this sentiment. In Dyche’s words, while acknowledging the adaptability and growth of Branthwaite, he believes the guidance of senior players will play a pivotal role in Branthwaite’s development.
The Road Ahead
Jarrad Branthwaite’s story, thus far, is one of perseverance, adaptability, and resilience. Though the road has been rocky, the destination he’s aiming for has never been clearer. Everton and their faithful see a future star in the making. And as reported by The Athletic, if his current trajectory continues, the sky is the limit for this young lad from Carlisle.