Rumours have suggested that Aston Villa’s current first-choice keeper, Sam Johnstone, could return to his parent club Manchester United to be sold this transfer window. However, recent comments from Villa owner Dr Tony Xia and manager Steve Bruce suggest Johnstone could still stay.
There have been strong rumours that the goalkeeper could join West Midlands rivals, West Bromwich Albion. In an earlier article, we cited sources suggesting that WBA had a £4million bid accepted. We also looked at what the potential loss of Johnstone could mean for Villa, with the 24-year-old goalkeeper conceding just 24 goals in 26 games this season.
However, a glimmer hope has emerged from the Twitter feed of Dr Tony Xia. Xia replied to a fan’s Tweet about Johnstone, saying
If this happens then it would be a big gain for Villa with Johnstone having a great season. He doesn’t appear to be in Jose Mourinho’s future plans, so if Villa can find some funds, a permanent deal will be the best option.
Johnstone has six months left on his United contract, and despite having the option to extend that contract for another year, that seems unlikely as he appears to be low down on Mourinho’s goalkeeper choices.
In an interview with BBC WM, Bruce said, “We haven’t heard that [about Johnstone to West Brom] at all… I spoke to Jose Mourinho two days ago and he never mentioned it.”
Out of all the speculation surrounding Johnstone’s career, the fact that Mourinho and Bruce have spoken without any new updates regarding Johnstone’s loan is the best news possible for Villa. Having a reliable, solid goalkeeper is something Villa hasn’t had in a long time. The fact that we may have found one here is fantastic.
At Villa, Johnstone is likely to be the number one keeping option if he signs on a permanent deal. Yet it’s most likely that a deal will have to be sorted in the summer due to Villa’s FFP restrictions. Johnstone is still young, so has plenty of time to continue to improve. He seems like the best long-term option as the first choice goalkeeper at Villa Park.
First, let’s hope he stays for the remainder of this season and those previous rumours don’t materialise into anything. And second, let’s hope we can sign him on a permanent deal, as Villa may have got themselves a gem in Johnstone.