Manchester United are firmly in the running to sign Sam Johnstone from West Brom, claims a report – but West Ham are currently in pole position.
Johnstone has been one of the standout players in a West Brom side seemingly destined for an immediate return to the Championship. The Baggies have conceded the most goals in the top flight this season but their goalkeeper has impressed. In fact, Johnstone has made the most saves of anyone in the division.
Hence, even though West Brom will likely be relegated, it seems Johnstone will get the chance to stay in the top flight. A number of clubs are interested in the 28-year-old.
Johnstone previously came through the academy ranks at Man Utd and they have been linked with taking him back.
There are currently doubts about the future of David De Gea. He is not the player he once was, and Dean Henderson has offered serious competition this season.
As the Spaniard faces an uncertain future, United could look to sign Johnstone as a replacement.
Those claims are backed up by ESPN, who confirm that the Red Devils are monitoring the uncapped England international. They claim it is likely De Gea will depart and Johnstone could help fill the void.
De Gea does not want to be a backup next season, so will likely look for a new home. It appears there may then be a competition between Johnstone and Henderson for the number one role.
If, that is, Johnstone ends up at Old Trafford in the first place. There are also other clubs queuing up for his signature, with Tottenham considering him in case Hugo Lloris leaves.
But the favourite at present is West Ham, according to ESPN.
The Hammers recently confirmed that Lukasz Fabianski had signed a new contract to stay with them next season. However, all their keepers are in their mid-thirties and they may need to plan for the future.
Johnstone is entering his prime years and would provide them stability in an important position for years to come.
And with a move to the London Stadium practically guaranteeing him a first-choice role, he is likely to prefer it to a return to Old Trafford.
That said, he remains open to heading back to Manchester, even if it means his chances of another England call-up would reduce until he overtook Henderson.
As for Tottenham, whether Johnstone would move there would depend on who their next manager is.
Whoever gets him will still have to pay a decent fee. It is claimed that he could cost around £18m. United, though, have a sell-on clause from the deal that originally sent Johnstone to the Hawthorns, so wouldn’t need to pay as much.
Johnstone future to be discussed this month
In April, Albion boss Sam Allardyce said his side would have to wait until they know what division they will be playing in next season to make a call on Johnstone’s future.
“We can only discuss that when we have secured our position as a Premier League club,” said Allardyce (via the Express & Star).
“That would mean discussion from the hierarchy at the club and look at what they can do with Sam’s contract and try to persuade him to stay.
“As usual, business is business. Whatever happens can only be decided then, but I think the club would do their very best to keep him.”
Johnstone’s current contract with the West Midlands club expires in 2022. Hence, they may have to cash in on him – and there will be no shortage of suitors.