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The Flying Max

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With the summer transfer window approaching, several players will be the target for top clubs who will be looking to bolster their ranks. And as is the case most years, several of these transfers will come from the minor leagues, from where a prodigious talent will cross over to the top leagues and become the next rising star of football. After the summer transfer window ends, Motherwell’s right-back Max Johnston could be one such player.

The 19-year-old, whose contract expires at the end of the season, is keen to leave the Scottish League and move to the big leagues. Described as one of the brightest prospects in Scotland, Johnston has many suitors ready to offer him a substantial contract to secure his signature.

As he will sign for any club as a free agent, teams will save a significant chunk of money on transfer fees, a part of which they will be looking to reinvest in his contract and signing bonus to emerge ahead of their competitors.

But who is Max Johnston, and how good is he?

Playing career so far 

Max Johnston was born on December 26 2003, in Middlesbrough, England and moved to Scotland at a young age. After playing for a host of clubs, Johnston joined Motherwell’s youth academy at the age of 12 years. This would start a remarkable career as Johnston would progress through various youth age groups.

Even at a young age, Johnston was earmarked for a great future. When Motherwell sacked Steve Robinson in January 2021 and replaced him with Graham Alexander, Johnston finally got his senior team debut on February 13, 2021, against Hamilton Academical.

Johnston would make just one more appearance in the Scottish League against St. Johnstone. However, even in these limited minutes, he showed enough potential to demand more time since there was stiff competition in the senior squad, so he was set on loan to the Queen of the South, who were then in the Scottish Championship, the second-tier league.

The full-back would make a total of 31 appearances that season, playing a total of 2.666 minutes. He scored his first goal on November 6, 2023, against Raith Rovers FC. However, despite performing brilliantly, he couldn’t help Queen of the South from relegation to the Scottish League One.

This season, he was initially sent on loan to another Scottish Championship side Cove Rangers where he played for the first half of the season before he was recalled in January.

With limited time there were concerns over the renewal of his contract. There were long-held talks between the club and the player’s agent. However, no solution could be reached, and now the player has announced his intention to leave the club.

Max Johnston stats 

In the 2021-22 season, Johnston played 25 times for the Queen of the North, scored two goals, and provided two assists. Among these four goals contributions, three came when Motherwell were in a losing situation, which showed his knack for performing when the team needed him the most.

Next season came the loan spell to Cove Rangers, where he played 11 games, contributing to three assists before being recalled to Motherwell and becoming an integral part of the team playing the entirety of seven of the ten games. He scored his first senior-team goal against St. Mirren in a 2-1 win. His form has been brilliant as of late, with the player providing two assists in his last two matches.

In just ten matches, Johnston has shown flashes of brilliance, winning almost half of his duels, whether on the ground or aerially. He also averages 1.5 tackles and 2.2 clearances per 90 minutes, a respectable number for a player in his first season in the Scottish top league.

Max Johnston scout report 

Anyone taking a look at Max Johnston’s heatmap shows us one thing; clearly, the teenager is a modern-day attacking full-back in the mould of Trent Alexander Arnold. In his ten matches for Motherwell, Johnston spent almost equal time in both halves, which shows his hunger to get forward and be involved in the creative department.

His incredible pace also ensures that he can go more up the pitch as he knows he can help his team out defensively if they face a counter-attack. His 1.85-metre frame also helps him be strong in the air, which he has used to significant effect.

Johnston also has a strong temperament that allows him to be calm even in precarious situations. His first goal against St. Mirren  is a perfect example of this. From the right, Johnston made a brilliant run past the opposition’s defence before perfectly controlling the ball with his chest. And with the goal at a steep angle along a defender boggling him down, Johnston produced a brilliant chip that found its way past the goalkeeper at the far post.

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What makes him special 

Looking past Max Johnston’s talent and skill, one of his most underrated skills is his ability to adapt and learn quickly. We must not forget that he was thrown from life at the Scottish second tier to playing for the top league in just two weeks.

However, his performance level has not dropped, and it seems that the increase in quality has not affected his game. He will need to have this quality in spades when he does go to a big league.

In addition, Johnston’s performance level has also increased recently, with the player scoring one goal and two assists in his last five games. However, this means he is a player who improves with game time, which means his true potential is yet to come.

Max Johnston’s potential and future at Malmo

With his intention to leave Motherwell, Max Johnston has already put a lot of clubs on alert. The full-back has shown the potential to become the next Andy Robertson or Kieran Tierney. However, what comes next will be the biggest challenge for his career. With a move to the big leagues imminent, Johnston must now prove his talent at the top leagues.

According to reports, several clubs are in the race to sign him. The chief among them are Burnley, AS Monaco, and Augsburg, who all want him to add to their ranks. However, Johnston has always expressed his interest in playing in the Premier League which might give Burnley a boost in getting his signature.

And for any club looking to sign Max Johnston, be prepared because you’re signing a superstar.

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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