Man Utd 'priority' Gareth Southgate has just done something INEOS will love

Gareth Southgate is reportedly a top INEOS target. (Image: GETTY)

Gareth Southgate may have done his potential future employers a huge favour when drawing up England’s final 26-man squad for EURO 2024. He has been mooted as Manchester United’s first-choice replacement if INEOS sack Erik ten Hag and may have assisted an upcoming pursuit of a top target.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s group are biding their time over a decision on Ten Hag’s future as they continue a review of his second season as manager.

The Dutchman has handed United’s new decision-makers a severe dilemma by lifting the FA Cup after overseeing the club’s worst-ever Premier League and Champions League campaigns.

A dismissal is expected if INEOS consider one of their candidates to be an upgrade, with Thomas Tuchel, Mauricio Pochettino, and Thomas Frank all linked.

But reports claim Southgate sits at the top of the tree after earning the admiration of Ratcliffe’s right-hand man, Sir Dave Brailsford, and incoming sporting director Dan Ashworth.

The 53-year-old is said to be United’s priority managerial appointment, but he won’t discuss the post until after England’s EURO 2024 campaign in Germany.

It will be Southgate’s fourth major tournament in charge of the nation and potentially his last, with his contract expiring later this year.

And whether he is to be United’s next manager or not, he may have handed INEOS an almighty favour ahead of a crucial summer transfer window.

This week, Southgate cut seven players from England’s preliminary 33-man squad to form his final group for the tournament in Germany.

Jarrad Branthwaite is a top Man Utd target. (Image: Getty)

Harry Maguire and Jack Grealish were the headline exclusions, joining James Maddison, Curtis Jones, Jarell Quansah, James Trafford and Jarrad Branthwaite.

Although Maguire is a United player – omitted due to a calf injury which forced him to miss the end of the season – the latter’s absence could interest club figures the most.

United will sign at least one centre-back this summer to replace Raphael Varane, who is set to leave as a free agent at the end of this month.

And Branthwaite is reportedly a prime target following a sensational first full season as an established senior player at Everton.

Sky Sports claim the Toffees are among the clubs having to cash in on players before June 30 to stay in line with the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainability Rules.

Amadou Onana and Branthwaite have been the duo most heavily linked with big-money moves, and the former will represent Belgium at EURO 2024, which finishes on July 14.

Everton were docked eight points across two sanctions last season for different financial breaches and will be keen to avoid further punishment.

It’s extremely rare for players to complete transfers while with their countries at an international tournament, so Branthwaite’s absence gives United a clear run at his signature.

Everton will reportedly demand at least £70m for the 21-year-old centre-back, who many were surprised Southgate snubbed due to his left-footed, ball-playing nature.

However, United are thought to value him closer to the £50m mark and may have to look elsewhere if no compromise can be reached. That said, Southgate’s decision has undoubtedly strengthened their position.