This article is part of Football FanCast’s Transfer Focus series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent transfer news…
Aston Villa are weighing up a move for Carlisle United defender Jarrad Branthwaite in the January transfer window, according to reports from Football Insider.
Branthwaite, 17, has made his breakthrough at the League Two club in the 2019/20 campaign, with the report suggesting that Villa sent scouts to watch Carlisle play Port Vale in their 2-1 defeat on Saturday.
The centre-back has made a total of nine appearances so far this season, marking his first term of first-team football with the north-west outfit.
Having signed a two-year contract in February 2019, the 6ft 4 defender is contracted to the Blues until 2021, but Dean Smith could look to test the resolve of Steven Pressley’s side in the upcoming window.
Centre-back is an area where Villa have a number of young options at their disposal already, with the likes of Tyrone Mings, Bjorn Engels, Kortney Hause and Ezri Konsa all vying for a starting berth and aged 26 or younger. In fact, the latter is just 22 and experiencing Premier League football for the first time.
Of course, Branthwaite is more of one for the future, but as things stand there’s no obvious pathway for him into the first team over the next few years with so many young defenders on the books already. He could easily end up fading into obscurity through a series of loan spells, especially if Mings and Engels remain Smith’s preferred partnership.
In the short-term too, Villa have conceded 20 goals in the league this season – a number only worsened by the bottom-three.
If Villa are to sign defensive recruits in the new year, those with first-team experience should unquestionably hold greater importance to Smith, acquiring players who can have an immediate impact and potentially replace the influence of injury-striken captain James Chester (the club’s oldest centre-half).
Adding another youngster to the mix feels counter-intuitive at this stage.