With news of Sam Johnstone’s imminent recall by Manchester United, what are the options for Aston Villa? The website TeamTalk are reporting that West Bromwich Albion have had an offer of £4m accepted.
We are in January and the Transfer Window is open. It’s a time for deals. It’s a time for rumour. And it’s a time for misinformation and leverage. Manchester United do not want to keep Sam Johnstone. He is out of contract in June so they want to cash in as soon as they can. Whether it’s Albion, Villa or someone else, they will want a deal done before the month is out.
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The report from TeamTalk suggests that the deal is done and Johnstone will be recalled. It states that Johnstone is wanted as a backup to Ben Foster. Also, the keeper will provide “strong competition“. Foster is 34 and at the back end of his career. Ironically, he was also a Manchester United player who was sent out on loan due to being surplus to requirements.
An article in the Express & Star newspaper suggests that Albion’s priorities are with a striker rather than signing Johnstone. It theorizes that Baggies boss Alan Pardew is happy with Foster and second choice keeper Boaz Myhill at this point. At odds with its report, the newspaper states that Johnstone has told friends that he is heading to the Hawthorns.
If Johnstone is to move permanently, surely he would want to be first choice? I’m sure the lure of Premier League football is more palatable than the Championship. However, sitting in the dugout every week doesn’t seem a great plan to learn his craft. He’s currently playing week-in, week-out at Aston Villa. There is also a possibility of Premier League football next season at any rate.
It is ostensibly true that Manchester United and Johnstone are angling for a deal to go through. Information released to the press could be used to prompt interested clubs, including Aston Villa, to make their move. Just to add to the mystery, Claret Villans writer Jack Nason spotted this tweet which was liked by Johnstone’s Twitter account:
If Johnstone does leave Villa Park in January, it does leave a massive hole. Jed Steer and Mark Bunn aren’t long-term options to help the promotion campaign. There is Pierluigi Gollini, on loan at Atalanta, but his credibility is far from assured. Perhaps Steve Bruce would need to call in another favour or two to sign a goalkeeper of suitability ability. Whatever happens, it’s all conjecture at the moment.