Celtic and Rangers are going head to head in the reported race to sign Carlisle United centre-back Jarrad Branthwaite after the teenage wonderkid broke into Carlisle’s senior side – but surely Neil Lennon’s side is his best move.
The Scottish Sun have claimed that both Old Firm sides are scouting the 6ft 4in 17-year-old, who has now first choice at Carlisle after starting his side’s last six league games – and clocking up eight appearances in total this season.
It is believed Celtic and Rangers are not the only sides interested in Branthwaite. The report claims a whole host of sides are watching the youngster, who is already rated at a whopping £1million despite his brief run of games at senior level.
There is no doubt, though, that Branthwaite will have a huge future in football that is likely to reach the Premier League – or indeed, the Scottish Premiership. But which club would be best for Branthwaite, Celtic or Rangers?
Rangers currently boast four excellent centre-backs. George Edmundson and Filip Helander joined the Gers in the summer, replacing both Gareth McAuley and Joe Worrall – McAuley retired while Worrall returned to Nottingham Forest after his loan.
Helander has been excellent alongside Connor Goldson, while Nikola Katic and Edmundson have proved to be more than adequate cover. Branthwaite would be fifth choice, and with zero chance of breaking into the side.
Celtic also have four recognised centre-backs, excluding Nir Bitton (midfield) and Hatem Abd Elhamed (right-back) who can play at centre-back. Christopher Jullien and Kris Ajer are first choice under Lennon.
But Jozo Simunovic is injury prone and has been linked with a move, while Jack Hendry is expected to leave the club and almost did so in the summer. Losing the latter duo would see Celtic down to just Ajer and Jullien as reognised options.
So, if Branthwaite is given the choice between Rangers or Celtic, surely a move to Lennon’s side would give him a better chance of breaking into the senior side and getting game time.