Evertonians usually wince when there is breaking news about their club given the grim headlines they have endured recently. But they were delivered a surprise (and welcome) boost on Friday with news that Jarrad Branthwaite has signed a new contract.
The 21-year-old is now committed to the club until 2027, though the Athletic reports that the club have the option of an extra year, with no release clause included.
That is brilliant news for all concerned.
Branthwaite is now firmly first choice centre-back alongside James Tarkowski after initially beginning the season on the bench (though we have since discovered he was carrying a niggling injury). He is a calm, assured defender who looks to have the tools to go all the way to the top.
“The stature of the club, how much of a family it is at Everton and how I just love playing here in front of the fans were key reasons for me signing. To sign this new contract was to show the commitment I have for the club and show how much it means to me to play for Everton.
“Since I joined, I’ve felt a connection with the club. The fans have been really good with me. For the first game I played, the cheer I got when my name was read out just gave me massive confidence to go out there and play my best game.
“Since I got in the team, the fans have shown me real support and that gives me confidence, especially for a young player. I can’t thank them enough.”
Branthwaite and his career path is a shining example of the type of recruitment Everton should be engaging in on a regular basis.
Signed for around £1m from his hometown club Carlisle in January 2020, the defender spent in a year with the U21s before going out on loan at Championship Blackburn.
Injuries disrupted his progress but a second loan at PSV Eindhoven proved pivotal. Branthwaite thrived with the Eredivisie club last season, making 36 appearances and lifting the KNVB Cup.
His summer also ended in glory with victory with England at the European U21 Championship.
“Last season, I went away to PSV and played 30-odd games and I’ve improved massively as a player, so I think the more games I play, the better I’ll get.
“The best way to improve is to keep playing as many games as possible and keep training hard and listening to the manager.
“Being at such a young age, it’s about progressing as a player, keep playing for this magnificent football club in front of our fans and hopefully this season pick up some good results.”
Let’s not kid ourselves however. The way Branthwaite is developing there is every chance he will be picked up by one of the Premier League’s established clubs in the next few years. Manchester United have already been linked with a move prior to him signing a new deal.
But by tying him down to a long-term deal Everton are protecting their investment and ensuring they can command a hefty fee if rivals come call.
It is a sensible management of one of their key assets, not something the club have been particularly good at of late.
Of course, let’s hope that eventuality does not happen for a while and we see plenty of Jarrad in royal blue over the next few years.
Speaking of the new deal, director of Football, Kevin Thelwell, said:
“Jarrad is an excellent player with huge potential and his new contract is richly deserved after the way he has played for us so far this season, having gained key experience on loan at PSV last term.
“It is a great boost for Everton to have a young player with Jarrad’s talent commit his long-term future to the club.
“His performances so far this season have impressed everyone and given a glimpse of his exciting potential. We look forward to him getting even better in the years ahead in the royal blue of Everton.”