Celtic have today been linked with a move for Carlisle United youngster Jarrad Branthwaite.
A report in The Scottish Sun stated that Head of Football Operations Nick Hammond made a personal trip to scout the centre-back last month as he searches for potential transfer targets.
The paper believe that Celtic continue to track his progress with a view to ‘making a swoop’ for his signature in the January window.
Beyond the transfer window language and bluster, it’s a link that doesn’t completely ring hollow.
Hammond and manager Neil Lennon have been on the hunt for a number of talents from English football recently, with players like Lee O’Connor, Jeremie Frimpong and Luca Connell all moving to Scotland.
What more should we know about Branthwaite then, ahead of a possible transfer window move?
Steven Pressley talked up his ability
Pressley, who played as a fearless defender for Celtic back when Gordon Strachan was at the club, this season couldn’t find enough good things to say about the prospect, claiming to local media that he wanted to build a team around Branthwaite at the Cumbrians.
As quoted by The News & Star last month, he said: “I’d love to keep the kid here, I really want to keep the kid here, I love working with him, he’s such an exciting talent and somebody eventually I can build a team around.
“We’re really early into this kind of plan, and hopefully in time you have a situation where we have far more Jarrads in the building.”
Pressley eventually left the club after poor league form, but it does give an insight into the way that the player is impressing coaches who are working on his potential.
The teenager, who also became his club’s youngest ever goalscorer last month (News & Star), clearly has a bit about him on the pitch and likely in training.
He’s only 17 and already 6ft 5in tall
We know Lennon loves his big, physical defenders and, despite his young age, Branthwaite apparently ticks that box.
Transfermarkt lists his height at 1.95m, which roughly translates to six-foot, five inches. That’d make him a towering presence in the Celtic box, similar to current first-team picks Christopher Jullien and Kristoffer Ajer.
Of course, he’d need strong defensive intelligence and ball-playing ability to make it at Celtic, but his natural attributes already give him a headstart when it comes to adjusting to the combative nature of Scottish football.
With only a handful of professional appearances to his name, he’s not ready to come right into our first-team, but could be very well suited to joining up with other talented youngsters in our reserves.
Newcastle, Southampton and Rangers are also keen
If Hammond is truly interested in signing him, and Lennon is keen too, then Celtic can’t hang about when it comes to his signature.
Three other clubs have also been linked with a move for him in recent days. Rangers were mentioned in The Scottish Sun’s report that cited Celtic’s interest, while the print edition of The Sun on Sunday (01/12, p67) also suggested that English Premier League outfits Newcastle and Southampton are also interested.
It’s said he could cost as much as £1m, which is no small fee for an untested teenager, but we have the resources to deliver him should the scouting reports glow.
With the January transfer window coming up and Celtic in need of some natural centre-half backup beyond Jack Hendry, it could be the time to strike.