West Bromwich Albion shot-stopper Sam Johnstone has made it clear to his current side that he wants to get back to the Premier League next season to boost his international prospects, as per a report from the Daily Mirror.
The 29-year-old’s contract at The Hawthorns is set to expire in the summer with talks between the two parties seemingly not progressing, a real source of frustration for the Baggies who would have wanted to receive a sizeable fee for one of their most valuable assets.
They had the chance to cash in last summer – but West Ham United’s £6m bid in mid-July fell well short of Albion’s previous £20m valuation and the goalkeeper failed to secure a move away from West Midlands in January as well.
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However, the England international has been left out of Steve Bruce’s last two matchday squads and has already played his last game for Albion with the 29-year-old set to be left out for the remainder of the campaign.
This could be because of this latest revelation at The Hawthorns with the shot-stopper thought to have made it clear to officials at the club that he wants to return to the top tier next term with the World Cup also coming up later this year.
The Baggies are still mathematically in the race for the top six at this stage – but with six points separating them at Sheffield United in sixth with just three league games to go and six teams to force their way past – a play-off finish looks all but impossible now.
This looks set to be costly in Albion’s attempts to tie the 29-year-old to a new deal – and they now seem to be resigned to losing him with the likes of Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Everton all thought to be monitoring his situation.
This is no real surprise considering Johnstone’s quality, though he’s someone that’s definitely replaceable and this is why supporters of the second-tier side shouldn’t be too downbeat about this situation.
In fact, the biggest thing they should be downbeat about is the fact they were unable to generate a considerable fee for him, because that would have helped in their quest to give their squad a shake-up this summer.
That shake-up is much-needed because things seem to have gone stale at The Hawthorns, so having a new man between the sticks may not be a bad thing despite the England international’s ability.
Looking at this situation from the 29-year-old’s point of view, he is probably well-served moving on from Albion in his quest to force his way into Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions’ thoughts but he needs to be a regular starter.
This is why a move to Manchester United or Tottenham Hotspur may not suit him, so he needs to assess his options very carefully. He may be in line to succeed Hugo Lloris at Spurs at some point – but he needs to focus on the short term if he wants to have the best chance of getting on the plane to Qatar later this year.