Often, when a goalkeeper is directly involved in a goal, they face criticism and the disappointment of conceding, however, in Andorra on Saturday night, Sam Johnstone faced jubilation for his involvement in England’s fifth goal.
Johnstone’s long throw down-field in the 86th minute was met by a sensational solo run from Jack Grealish to cement a five star performance from England.
Outside of this, as you would expect against Andorra, Sam Johnstone – in his third England appearance – had an easy evening at the office, having virtually no involvement in the game – aside from an excellent stop late on, despite the Andorran shot coming from an offside position.
Despite this quiet evening, the quality of Sam Johnstone has been known for a while now, so it begs the question, why is he playing in the Championship?
The West Brom stopper has been with the club since 2018, facing promotion to and relegation from the Premier League, in which time he has drawn immense praise, but could it be time to move on? and if so, who could be eyeing Johnstone up?
Starting with the most high-profile option, Johnstone could be set to replace long-time Spurs captain and number one, Huge Lloris.
Supposedly, Tottenham were interested in Johnstone over the summer, but opted to sign Pierluigi Gollini on-loan for this 2021/22 campaign.
But, with Spurs sending scouts to watch Johnstone in action for West Brom, this time round the move could come together.
Spurs are facing the prospect of losing both of their first team goalkeepers in the summer, with Gollini’s loan expiring and Lloris currently out of contract at the end of the season, with no deal currently being discussed to extend his nine year stay in North London.
For this move to come off however, it would more than likely need Lloris to leave the club.
Johnstone is a highly-rated, sensation shot-stopper who needs to be playing first team Football, no matter what club he is at. He is no longer a ‘young’ ‘keeper, at 28 years old it is imperative for his career and England chances that he is playing week in week out.
So, once Lloris’ future is decided, the wheels can begin to turn on Johnstone’s potential Spurs move.
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A move to the South coast could be the most likely switch for Johnstone.
Southampton are rumoured to be extremely keen on the England keeper, with a potential move being lined up as early as January.
Despite the fact that Johnstone is set to be a free agent come summer 2022, the Saints could test the waters by bidding for Johnstone in January to tempt West Brom into selling before they offer Johnstone a new contract, with a big deal being lined up by the baggies to try and convince Johnstone to stay at The Hawthorns.
Southampton’s urgency can also be explained by a potential goalkeeper shortage, with Fraser Forster set to leave in the summer at the expiration of his contract, leaving Alex McCarthy as the only senior goalkeeper in Ralph Hassenhuttl’s squad.
A move to the South coast could be a good move for Johnstone, with a strong chance of regular first team Football on offer – something that will undoubtable boost his claim for more England minutes ahead of the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
The side that came closest to securing Johnstone’s signature in the summer, West Ham could be set to go back in for the 28-year old.
The Hammers had a £10 million bid rejected over the summer as they begin to look beyond 36-year old number one Lukasz Fabianski, who, despite signing a new contract in March, will be a free agent at the end of the season.
Behind Fabianski in the West Ham pecking order is Alphonse Areola, on-loan from PSG, but his future remains uncertain after limited game time for David Moyes’ side.
West Ham potentially represents the best ‘value for money’ move for Johnstone. The Hammers are coming off the back of a fantastic 2020/21 season and have so far started well in the Premier League, currently ninth in the League having won both of their two opening Europa League group games.
Additionally, with West Ham succession planning for after Fabianski, regardless of whether the Polish ‘keeper extends his contract, and even if the 36-year old does extend, it would be expected that Johnstone would become the number one at the London stadium.