Sam Johnstone could complete a return to Manchester United to replace Dean Henderson in the summer – if he is willing to sacrifice a regular starting role.
There will be plenty of options open to Sam Johnstone in the summer. His contract with West Bromwich Albion is due to expire. After impressing for them in the Premier League last season, this could be his chance to step back up to the top tier.
A number of clubs are looking into a deal for the English goalkeeper. We understand he is on the radar of the likes of Tottenham, West Ham and Rangers.
According to 90min, also in contention are Southampton, Crystal Palace and – perhaps most significantly – Manchester United.
Sam Johnstone came through the academy ranks with Man Utd before leaving for a number of loan spells. His permanent exit from the club came in 2018, when West Brom signed him.
Now, Johnstone could retrace his steps by re-joining United. However, to do so, he would have to accept a backup role behind David De Gea.
The Spaniard has rediscovered his best form this season to remind why he is United’s number one. As such, his long association with the club will continue.
That poses a problem for current backup Dean Henderson, who himself wants to be a number one somewhere. It is growing increasingly likely that United will let him move elsewhere.
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Newcastle are believed to be interested in Henderson as they look for a new goalkeeper in the summer. Should Man Utd let him go, they could try to replace him with fellow academy product Johnstone.
However, the 29-year-old may not be ready for a backup role himself yet. He may therefore have to choose between an emotional return to Old Trafford and an alternative route with more first-team opportunities.
Johnstone has worked his way into the England squad, effectively as third-choice goalkeeper. To stay there in time for the 2022 World Cup, maintaining a regular role at club level could be important.
De Gea to sign new deal – and compete with Sam Johnstone?
The backup goalkeeper position, therefore, remains in question for Man Utd. What should be more clear, though, is the number one berth.
A report earlier this month revealed the club’s future plans for De Gea. According to The Sun, Man Utd will offer De Gea a new contract in the future.
First, they plan to trigger the option in his contract for a further 12 months. That will tie the 31-year-old down until the summer of 2024.
That will give United chiefs more breathing room to negotiate a new contract entirely, and the club are reportedly prepared to ‘bend’ their current policy regarding players aged over 30.
United tend to offer those players short-term contracts. And barring extraordinary circumstances – like with Cristiano Ronaldo – players over 30 are generally offered ‘lower wages’ than those in their prime.
However, club officials ‘realise the need’ to perform a 180 on that strategy when it comes to De Gea. And given his mesmeric form this season, it’s easy to understand why.