Transfer

Man Utd now in pole position to sign “animal” to play with Branthwaite

The January transfer window may only just have closed, but already Manchester United and their new minority shareholder Jim Ratcliffe appear to be hard at work on potential additions to the squad this summer.

One of those is Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite, with recent reports suggesting that United are at the front of the queue, ahead of several Premier League sides, to sign him from Everton. Manager Erik ten Hag and his recruitment staff view him as a long-term target, but he’s not the only one attracting their interest in the backline.



Over in Italy, it’s been claimed that United are setting up a meeting with Juventus to discuss the availability of centre-back Gleison Bremer, a player Ten Hag views as an “ideal” fit, and now there’s been an encouraging update on the Red Devils’ chances of landing him.

United lead the way for £60m Bremer

According to Calciomercato, United are in pole position to sign Bremer this summer. They’ve been on the “trail” of the Brazilian “for some time now” as they pursue a “reliable centre-back” and there’s a feeling that he’d “adapt perfectly” to the English top-flight.

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The Red Devils youngster has burst onto the scene under Erik ten Hag this season.

It was only a couple of months ago that Bremer signed a new deal that runs until the summer of 2028 and improves his earnings, but Juventus’ policy is that any player can leave if the right offer is received. In the case of Bremer, they intend to drive a hard bargain, demanding a fixed fee of around £60m (which means United won’t be able to reach their demands with add-ons).

Bremer would try to offer Varane upgrade

Bremer, described as an “animal” by former Torino team-mate Mergim Vojvoda, won Serie A’s Best Defender award in 2021/22 and was named in the Team of the Season last year too, underlining his status as one of Europe’s top players in his position.

However, what will really matter for United is whether he represents an upgrade on Raphael Varane, who’s set to leave Old Trafford this summer after the club decided not to exercise their option to extend his contract by another 12 months.

It’s difficult to compare the numbers of two different defenders, because the volume of their actions will depend upon how much they’re being asked to do within certain matches. It shows us how busy they are rather than how good they are.

There are, however, a few metrics that are of use. As you can see in the table below, Varane is a more precise distributor than Bremer despite executing more progressive passes, although it should also be noted that the latter is attempting almost twice as many long balls per game.

Stat

Gleison Bremer

Raphael Varane

Passing accuracy

86.2%

88.9%

Long passes attempted per 90

8.52

4.78

Progressive passes per 90

2.58

4.67

Dribblers tackled

66.7%

62.5%

Aerial duel success rate

63.6%

88.9%

As for the defensive fundamentals, Bremer has the edge when it comes to halting the runs of attackers, and while Varane would appear to have a big lead in the air, it should be noted that he’s only contested 18 duels to his counterpart’s 107. Already determined to move on from the Frenchman, we can expect United to watch the Juve star closely until the end of the campaign as they decide how much they’re prepared to pay for his services.

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