Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is the latest player linked with a move to Steve Bruce’s Aston Villa.
Johnstone, 23, plays third-string behind incumbent starter David de Gea and backup Sergio Romero over at Manchester United. The very promising youngster has never quite cemented his place at Old Trafford – mainly due to the presence of one the world’s best ‘keepers in de Gea.
Now twenty-three, Johnstone may be anxious to move on in order to jump start his career. Enter Villa, Aston. His career has spanned multiple loan moves including: Scunthorpe, Doncaster Rovers and most recently, Preston North End.
The latest reports out of Birmingham indicate manager Steve Bruce is eager to bring Johnstone to Villa Park. The assumption, being, that he would compete with fellow young goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini over the number one shirt.
The timing could not be more perfect as current number three ‘keeper, Jed Steer, injured his achilles and will miss significant time.
A theoretical competition between Gollini and Johnstone sounds fairly interesting. Gollini, 21, remains two years younger than Johnstone, with more professional experience to boot. However, Gollini struggled during the early part of the season after his summer move from Italy.
Though, the Italian has improved significantly after becoming acclimated to English football.
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His appearances the last month and a half have been quite outstanding. Gollini continually accepts call-ups to the Italian under-21 side; meaning, he is seen as a promising player to coaches other than those at Aston Villa.
A loan move for Sam Johnstone doesn’t really make sense if he’s purely being brought in for backup. That is what Mark Bunn is for – an experienced number two capable of playing in the Championship (He made half the Premier League starts for Villa last season).
Perhaps though, Jose Mourinho would be willing to part with his number three ‘keeper at the right price.
Bringing Sam Johnstone in permanently would be a shrewd signing given his current ability. He may already be an improvement over Mark Bunn, whose contract runs out this coming summer.
However, Johnstone should not be coming in at the expense of Pierluigi Gollini. Gollini shows glimpses of talent that may make him blossom into a truly awesome goalkeeper. Given his age, his number of mistakes should mostly be forgiven (not to mention they’ve nearly disappeared as the season has moved along).
Nevertheless, bringing in quality value is never a bad trait. Sam Johnstone could bring quiet value while mitigating the risk that Gollini never reaches his potential.
Attached above is a highlight reel while Johnstone was on-loan at Doncaster Rovers.