Skip to content

Jarrad Branthwaite exclusive: PSV loan spell 'made me a better person and a player' for Everton return

Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite opens up about a breakthrough season on loan at PSV, working under Sean Dyche and how the Toffees can improve Watch Brentford vs Everton live on Sky Sports Premier League from 5pm on Saturday, kick-off 5.30pm

Jarrad Branthwaite

"International sides need their best players to broaden their horizons. Look at France, most of their side play abroad in Italy, Spain or England, yet they won the World Cup and the European Championships."

That quote, from then-Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann, is more than two decades old but could have been written yesterday. The message was directed towards his Reds team-mate Michael Owen and England captain David Beckham, but he could've been describing the vast majority of prominent British players.

Both of Hamann's intended targets ended up following that advice, albeit probably not down to his inspiration, and enjoyed successful spells in Europe with Real Madrid - even if one was rather longer than the other.

Over 800k Super 6 players predicting Everton loss at Brentford

  • Over 800k Super 6 players are backing a Brentford win as they welcome Everton on Saturday.
  • Over 360k entrants are on a 2-0 win for Thomas Frank’s side.

Even the influence of Jadon Sancho, Jude Bellingham and now Harry Kane as British exports has failed to turn the tide. Of Gareth Southgate's latest England squad, just four of their number play their football overseas.

So when Everton defender Jarrad Branthwaite was given the chance to join PSV on loan last summer, a daunting opportunity only weeks after his 20th birthday, there were few he could turn to for advice on the pros and cons of the offer.

After a breakthrough season in Eindhoven he has earned and kept a starting spot back at Goodison Park and would be unequivocal if any of the club's other young talent consider following his lead.

He tells Sky Sports: "It was the best thing I could've done. It was the best move I've made, when you're young you've just got to play games, at any level. Going over there was a big platform, a big stage, playing in Europe and things - and getting that solid game time continuously really helped me.

Also See:

"After I spoke to my family and my agent, I said yes straight away because of the opportunity, what I could achieve over there and playing the games I did. I've grown as a person, more confident on and off the field.

"Moving to a different country, living on your own, you've got to learn new things and adapt to things, a new culture, a new language. It was a difficult start when I went over there, but it stood me in good stead to come back as a better person and player than I was when I left."

Branthwaite won't miss the bicycles, or his Dutch lessons - "I only lasted a couple of sessions" - but after a tricky start, he grew to love a city whose welcoming atmosphere reminded him of home back in Liverpool.

Live: SNF

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Watch Everton's narrow defeat to Arsenal, where Branthwaite shone despite the hosts' defeat

He had played less than 400 Premier League minutes at Everton across the whole of the previous season, so finding himself back on the bench at the Philips Stadion early on was an uncomfortable deja vu.

"The first half of the season was tough," he says. "Once you're playing games, you're not thinking about being on your own but when I wasn't, it was long weeks in training, thinking about why I wasn't playing and that I'd come over there for no reason."

Branthwaite's resilience was already long-established. He had been six weeks away from being released by boyhood side Carlisle as a teenager before busting a gut to earn a scholarship with the backing of his father Paul, a retired rugby player, whose support through his academy years helped keep the professional dream alive.

He kept his head down in Holland and reaped the reward. He took Andre Ramalho's place for PSV's first game after the mid-season break and never returned it, missing only two of their final 20 games.

Jarrad Branthwaite caught the eye as PSV beat Arsenal in the Europa League group stages last season
Image: Branthwaite caught the eye as PSV beat Arsenal in the Europa League group stages last season

Manager Ruud Van Nistelrooy was effusive in his praise. "He is a great talent," he said in February. "He is good on the ball, can play on the right or left of the centre because he is two-footed, has height and speed - he is a very complete defender."

It was public knowledge PSV wanted to keep him in the Eredivisie, but Everton were well aware of the rave reviews their young talent was getting on the continent, and Sean Dyche made clear he knew how he had performed when he reported back to Finch Farm for pre-season.

"When I came into pre-season, he told me to train hard, and that I would get my chance, and it was down to me to take it," he says.

"I kept thinking of that when I wasn't playing in the first couple of games, and now I'm in the team it's about keeping my performance levels high and staying there."

A former centre-back himself, Dyche's influence as a defensive organiser has added to that experience picked up in the Netherlands. The manager is quick to remind him of the basics in training. It's showing on the pitch.

If Branthwaite keeps his place at Brentford on Saturday, live on Sky Sports, he will match the starting tally of his last full season at Goodison Park after just six games. It would be a surprise if he didn't after a stoic performance against Arsenal last Sunday.

That defeat cemented Everton's joint-worst start to a Premier League season, but Branthwaite is flourishing with and without the ball at the heart of their defence. He has won the ball back in his own third more than any other Everton player, and completed the second-most forward passes of anyone in a Toffees shirt.

Is he playing the best football of his burgeoning career?

"Yeah, you could say that," he says. "This is the most challenging league, so to be performing at the level that I am, it's been a good start for me.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Everton boss Sean Dyche said on Thursday talks with Miami-based company 777 Partners were 'very casual' and admitted the deal had a long way to go

"There's lots of room to improve to get to the next level, which I'm working on, but that'll come with a run of games and playing the same way that I am.

"It's nice having a coach who knows your position, knows tips he can give you, but not only me but the team. We've been doing defensive work [in training], building that connection between the whole backline to help us perform better.

"Once we get more solid at the back, it makes it easier for the attackers as well, not having all the pressure on them to score.

"It's not just the attackers that attack, it's the defenders as well. Bringing that together, hopefully it happens at the weekend and can go on a run of good results."

Dyche has usurped dad Paul as chief advisor ahead of a match day with a fair degree of justification. From chauffeuring him to away games as a child, he gets to watch from the stand these days - but is still as honest as ever about his son's performances.

"Oh if I've played well or not he'll let me know," says Branthwaite with a smile. It could be a little while before the next bad review at this rate.

Watch Brentford vs Everton live on Sky Sports Premier League from 5pm on Saturday, kick-off 5.30pm. Get a NOW Pass in time for the match to watch the Premier League and more.

Win £250,000 with Super 6!
Win £250,000 with Super 6!

Correctly predict six scorelines to win £250,000 for free with Super 6. Entries by 3pm Saturday.

Around Sky