Carlisle United teenager Jarrad Branthwaite only made his debut for the League Two side this season but he appears to have caught the eye of some big clubs already.
The 17-year-old centre-back is a product of the Lake District club’s academy system and made his professional debut against Blackpool in the EFL Trophy in October.
According to Football Insider, Scottish giants Celtic and Premier League side Aston Villa are both monitoring the defender after his exploits with the first team this season.
The report suggests that Carlisle are braced for interest in the teenager in January and that Celtic are compiling a dossier ahead of a potential move for him when the transfer window opens at the turn of the year.
But is Branthwaite worthy of their attention? We put a spotlight on his performances for Carlisle this season to examine just that.
The 17-year-old had to wait until October to make his debut for the Blues but grabbed hold of his chance with both hands and has cemented a place in the side since–starting the last five League Two games.
Branthwaite provides a fantastic combination of a 6ft 4ins frame, surprising speed, and impressive athleticism.
The Blues have struggled so far this season and find themselves battling at the bottom of League Two but the performances of the 17-year-old have been of the bright sparks of the 2019/20 campaign.
Defensively, he has been extremely solid and appears to play the game with composure beyond his years.
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Branthwaite has won 69.9% of his defensive duels and 64.4% of his aerial duels this season, as well as averaging 16.33 recoveries per game.
His reading of the game has also been excellent, as evidenced by the fact that he averages 5.04 interceptions and 2.74 clearances per game.
In an era where ball-playing central defenders have become so popular, the teenager’s ability in possession is likely what has caught the attention of the likes of Villa and Celtic.
Not only has he shown an admirable range of passing–averaging 34 passes per game at a success rate of 77.2%, including 6.14 long passes and 4.17 passes to the final third–he has the confidence and the ability to bring the ball out from the back.
Branthwaite has made six dribbles and five progressive runs this season–numbers that you’d imagine are only likely to increase as his confidence continues to grow. It is worth checking out his goal against Morecambe in EFL Trophy for an example of just how special this kid may be.
There is an awful lot to like about the Englishman, both looking at the numbers and watching him on the pitch.
Sure, he is not the finished article yet, but swooping for Branthwaite in January looks a really shrewd move because you feel the longer he stays at Carlisle, the more attention he is likely to attract.