Everton centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite has joined Championship side Blackburn Rovers on loan for the remainder of the season. Signed a year ago from Carlisle United for a reported £1 million, the 18-year-old made his Everton first team debut in July, and featured in the final four games of last season.
And Branthwaite caught the eye with his composed demeanour on the ball, and fierce and fearless tackling as he sought to win the ball it back. The October signing of Ben Godfrey and his almost immediate success on the pitch have pushed Branthwaite down the pecking order, though, with all four senior centre-halves currently in good form.
Branthwaite’s only first team minutes this season came in September’s Carabao Cup tie against Salford, when he was forced off with an ankle knock 24 minutes into that 3-0 win.
He has recently made Carlo Ancelotti’s extended nine-man substitutes’ bench, but was not in the matchday squad for Tuesday’s win over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux, the scene of his Everton debut six months earlier.
Blackburn reportedly beat out a number of other Championship sides to Branthwaite’s signature, including Sheffield Wednesday (who Everton play next in the FA Cup), Bournemouth and Preston North End.
Rovers sit 11th in the Championship, with multiple media sources saying manager Tony Mowbray wanted the deal pushed through quickly so he could have Branthwaite in the squad for Saturday’s game against Stoke City.
From an Everton perspective, it will be interesting to see how Branthwaite fares in the rough and tumble of the Championship, and if he can displace the likes of Darragh Lenihan, Derrick Williams, Daniel Ayala or Scott Wharton.
Branthwaite initially signed a deal until June 2022 with Everton, but the club then triggered a 12-month extension to his contract following his 18th birthday. Here’s wishing the youngster all the best!