Everton should forget about a summer swoop to sign Fulham’s in-demand Ibane Bowat as Carlo Ancelotti already has his answer to the teenage starlet in Jarrad Branthwaite.
Reports by TEAMtalk earlier this week claimed that the Toffees are one of several clubs currently in talks with Bowat over a move away from Craven Cottage as the defender nears the end of his scholarship contract.
Fulham are keen to retain the centre-back and have tabled a professional deal following his recent graduation to the south-west Londoners’ under-23s, but face a battle with rival negotiations already taking place.
Bowat penned a two-year scholarship with Fulham in 2019 and has been a regular for their under-18s this term, making 12 appearances in all competitions, and has seen his progress rewarded with call-ups to Scotland’s under-19 side.
The 18-year-old is eligible to play for England and France as well and has multiple clubs on alert ahead of becoming a free agent in June, being able to play at left-back and centre-half thanks to being left-footed.
Everton, along with Arsenal, Brighton and Hove Albion and West Ham United, are all in talks with the promising youngster over a potential move away from Fulham, with discussions taking place over the last few weeks, per TEAMtalk.
Bundesliga outfit Koln are also said to be monitoring the 6 ft 2 enforcer’s situation, as an intermediary attempting to broker a deal failed to reach an agreement over the terms of a move to the RheinEnergie Stadion
However, Everton should not be concerned about the prospect of missing out on Bowat, as Ancelotti already has his up-and-coming defensive rock at Goodison Park in Branthwaite.
After moving to Goodison Park in January 2020 from Carlisle United, the youngster quickly progressed from the under-23s to make his first team debut two weeks after his 18th birthday and has amassed five senior games in royal blue.
Branthwaite struggled for game time at Goodison Park this season after sustaining ankle ligament damage in September’s Carabao Cup tie with Salford City, but has been a regular with Blackburn Rovers since joining the Championship side on loan in the winter market.
Mowbray described the 6 ft 5 titan’s debut against Stoke City as “remarkable” for his age and noted how Branthwaite – who has been linked with Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool – “looked like a Premier League centre-half” through his pace and assuredness against Nottingham Forest.
Ancelotti was vividly impressed with Branthwaite’s performances when he broke into the Toffees first team last season, too, telling EvertonTV: “I am really happy with him, he is really young, a kid, but he showed quality and personality and character.
“He is really calm with the ball, really comfortable, and really aggressive without the ball. He can be a fantastic player for us.”
Meanwhile, Bowat is yet to be included in a senior matchday squad at Fulham or make his under-23s debut after two seasons as a regular of the Craven Cottage natives’ under-18 backline which won the Under-18 Premier League southern division last season.
The Fulham prospect may have his admirers, but Ancelotti has a ready-to-go senior option in Branthwaite once the loanee returns to Goodison Park in the summer.