Champions League chasers join Newcastle United in race for prospect – but Magpies remain in the driving seat
Newcastle United remain in the driving seat to seat highly-rated prospect Jarrad Branthwaite despite increased interest from Leicester City.
The Carlisle United central defender has been a revelation at Brunton Park this season, but has been on the radar of United's youth scouts for much longer.
And the Gazette understands that despite the Foxes being reported as leading the queue, the Magpies retain a first refusal on the 17-year-old, whose fee could reach upwards of £1million.
This is no guarantee United will progress with a bid, but they will be kept informed of any approaches or bids in the January window – a deal which was agreed when Carlisle were chosen as the preferred destination of then in-demand frontman Elias Sorensen in the summer.
According to Football Insider, the Foxes are confident of blowing any competition ‘out the water’ for Branthwaite.
As well as Leicester’s interest, reports in Scotland suggest Celtic have sent director of football, Nick Hammond south of the border to check on the player, while Old Firm rivals Rangers are also thought to retain an interest.
Carlisle-native Branthwaite has made 13 appearances for his hometown club this season, scoring one goal.
Carlisle’s director of football David Holdsworth has claimed the League Two outfit are yet to receive a bid for coveted defender.
He said: “No bids have been received and there are definitely no deals or agreements in place with any club at any level about Jarrad’s future.”