West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is drawing great transfer interest from across England. The shot-stopper was in fine form for the Baggies even though they were relegated from the Premier League. The 28-year-old must be wary in choosing his next club as he should be a starter in his own right and not a backup option.
— England (@England) June 15, 2021
Johnstone currently returned from the England squad that finished as runners-up at the Euros. He deserves a well-earned rest after a grueling season but he must ponder on his future at the Hawthorns as they are about to spend another season in the Championship.
The life of a goalkeeper is not simple. In this modern era, even a single mistake is magnified and dissected over and over infinite times. Johnstone luckily has been free of those moments. He has stepped up massively and is finally living up to his potential. With only a year on his West Brom contract, this summer plays a key role.
WHO WANTS JOHNSTONE?
According to reports, a host of Premier League keepers are chasing Johnstone. Two of the traditional big six, Arsenal and Chelsea are rumored to be looking at Johnstone as a backup. Their fellow London club West Ham is also touted as a potential destination for the Englishman.
Arsenal’s manager Mikel Arteta wants a new backup to Bernd Leno. This signing might also push Leno for a starting spot. Their scouting team have shortlisted two relegated players in Johnstone and Sheffield United’s custodian Aaron Ramsdale. Johnstone is rumored to be available for £20 million and is cheaper than Ramsdale.
— DailyAFC (@DailyAFC) July 14, 2021
Chelsea too are looking for a backup keeper. The club are unsure about the future of the world’s most expensive goalkeeper Kepa. Edouard Mendy is not the perfect starter yet. Johnstone might play second string to Mendy or even dethrone him.
West Ham can realistically offer Johnstone a starter role. Lukasz Fabianski has been looking mediocre in goal. Going into the Europa League, they might benefit from him having competition. Johnstone might take up the number one role from the Polish international if his form doesn’t pick up. The only thing that hampers this move is West Ham’s reluctance to meet the Baggies’ price tag.
WHAT SHOULD JOHNSTONE DO?
Sam Johnstone hailed from Euxton villa, a suburb of Manchester. His talent naturally took him to Manchester United’s academy. Johnstone started touring many clubs on a never-ending loan spree. He wasn’t able to best David de Gea who was the Red Devils’ number one choice. Finally, in 2018, he found a permanent club in West Brom and joined a then-newly relegated side.
✅ @England Debut!
✅ Clean Sheet!
✅ Unbelievable reaction save!
🏴 @SamJohnstone50 on his first game for the Three Lions! pic.twitter.com/CkbmvjIMGE
— SPORF (@Sporf) June 7, 2021
The move to the Hawthorns truly benefitted him as he was their undisputed number one. It also helped Johnstone realize his best version. He helped the Baggies return to the Premier League last season. However, despite his heroics in goal, West Brom weren’t able to stay up in the league. It is hard to judge Johnstone by his numbers. If one reads from the stats, he might be the worst keeper in the league for conceding the highest number of goals. In reality, he is the reason why West Brom were alive and kicking till the final stages of the season.
Johnstone had a number of top-class games in the top flight this season. His saves against Liverpool and Manchester City earned them deserving points. At times, Johnstone singlehandedly kept the scoreline respective when West Brom were pummelled. Gareth Southgate was impressed by the character and ability of Sam Johnstone and took him to the Euros as a deputy to Jordan Pickford.
What a day for @samjohnstone50! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/NgH9z1SGee
— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) May 25, 2021
In the prime of his career at 28, Johnstone is too good for the championship now. He must search for a way into the topflight. That too a starter role is expected because of his talent. West Brom won’t stand in his way if a good offer arrives. Johnstone must decide for himself where he wants to be in the near future. When he does decide, it must be in favor of a move that elevates his game to the next level.