Born in Carlisle, made for the Premier League.

Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite has been impressive this season, attracting attention from Europe’s biggest clubs.

The 21-year-old has been a mainstay of Sean Dyche’s rugged defence, conceding the same amount of goals as fourth placed Aston Villa at the time of writing.

The Toffees were comfortably clear of the relegation zone prior to their unprecedented 10-point deduction but now sit in 18th place on seven points following Saturday’s 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest.

However, the prospect of relegation does not look so imminent with a solid defence and the talented Branthwaite could be crucial to keeping his side in the top flight.

According to reports, Branthwaite tops Erik Ten Hag’s list of targets to help overhaul the Manchester United back line. It is expected that he would command a £35 million price tag.

The player’s former academy coach, now Carlisle assistant Manager Gavin Skelton, says his mentality would put him in good stead for a big move.

He told Mersey Sport Live: “I think he’s quite quiet but definitely strong mentally. Nothing would challenge him in terms of a move. I think you’ve seen him play. He’s very calm and collected.”

Branthwaite spent the 2022/23 season on loan at Dutch outfit PSV Eindhoven, winning the 2023 KNVB Cup. Although PSV fell short in the Eredivisie and came runners up to Feyenoord by seven points, it was good experience for Branthwaite to play regular senior football.

Said Skelton: “To go abroad at such a young age and play, you know, that is a challenge and in every way he’s brilliant. So, no, nothing would surprise me in terms of that.

“You never know what rumours are but, whatever challenges lay ahead for him, I’m sure he can handle them.”

Branthwaite captained his England under-21 side in a 3-0 triumph against Northern Ireland at Goodison Park recently. Skelton put the success partly down to the dedication of the Everton player’s family.

He said: “For his family, I know how proud they are. In the under-18s we’d play all over at 11 o’clock in the morning, anywhere across England, his mum and dad were always there, and I think there were same when he was in the under-16s.

“They’d put in the hard yards, so you are kind of pleased for the family. You look out for people like that or anyone you’ve worked with.”

Skelton described how Branthwaite’s talent has always been apparent and impressed Carlisle’s first team manager, Stephen Pressley: “The minute Stephen saw him play as a 16-17-year-old, I remember we spoke about playing him as a left wing back away at Tranmere. That could have been his league debut, that’s how highly we rated him in terms of how calm mentally and how technically special he was.”

Accorsing to Skelton, Branthwaite’s technical ability could be down to his youth career. He said: “He was predominantly a midfielder growing up. So, technically he’s good that way, taking and receiving a ball and passing. I know it’s something he worked on. Credit to him on that.”

Branthwaite’s debut eventually came as a 17-year-old against top of the league, Plymouth Argyle, a game that Carlisle would go onto lose 2-0.

“I can remember substituting him when we were playing away,” said Skelton.

“They (Plymouth Argyle) were top of the league, that would have been his debut, and they were a good side. So, he has almost learned on the job as a centre-half and that shows. I can see it when I see him on TV. He’s developing all the time.”

Despite the glitz and glamour of the Premier League, Branthwaite still keeps in contact with his former coach.

Said Skelton: “We had an injury and I texted him (Branthwaite), ‘could you send him a quick video?’

“He was with England under 21s and he sent it over within like two minutes of asking. Also, when we got promoted last year, Jarrad and his dad were the first to text and congratulate us.”

Skelton said the Premier League has not changed the humble 21-year-old: “The only difference is I think when he comes home he stands out because he has a smarter motor!

“He is a very family centred lad. He’s got a very supportive family that also has confidence in him, things like that. He is a very down to earth lad and proud of where he comes from.”