Scottish giants Celtic and Rangers are set to compete for the signing of 17-year-old Carlisle United defender Jarrad Branthwaite when the transfer window reopens in January, a report from the Scottish Sun has claimed.
Branthwaite only broke into the Carlisle first-team earlier this season, and has so far made 10 appearances in all competitions for the League Two side, becoming the club’s youngest-ever goalscorer and captain in a 3-1 EFL Trophy defeat at Morecambe last month.
That impact has already started to attract attention from elsewhere, with Premier League outfit Aston Villa having already been linked with a move for the 6ft 4in centre back.
Now, the latest reports have revealed that both Celtic and Rangers are also taking an interest in the teenager.
It is thought that Celtic’s director of football Nick Hammond has already watched Branthwaite in action, while Rangers are also said to have sent one of their top scouts to monitor the teenager’s progress ahead of a potential move in January.
There are currently 18 months remaining on Branthwaite’s contract with Carlisle, securing his future at Brunton Park until the summer of 2021, although the club do have the option to extend that deal by a further 12 months.
Carlisle have endured a difficult start to the season in League Two, taking just five wins from 19 league games to leave them 21st in the fourth-tier standings, with manager Stephen Pressley given the sack last month.
Celtic meanwhile currently lead Rangers in goal difference alone at the top of the Scottish Premier League standings, after 14 games of their league campaign so far.
This is an interesting one.
The level of interest there appears to be in Branthwaite certainly seems to highlight the level of potential the teenager possesses, meaning this could well be a decent signing for one of these sides in the long term.
Indeed, the way in which Branthwaite has coped with being thrown into the first-team at Carlisle does seem to suggest that he has the adaptability required to make the step up in level were he to make such a move.
With Carlisle currently languishing towards the bottom of the Football League as well, it could certainly be argued that move to a club the size of Celtic or Rangers – or indeed Aston Villa – would be hard for Branthwaite to turn down.