Ex-West Bromwich Albion midfielder Carlton Palmer has said he believes Southampton making a potential January move for Baggies star Sam Johnstone is a ‘no-brainer’, speaking in an interview with This is Futbol.
The 28-year-old was one of two West Brom players Valerien Ismael was ‘resigned’ to losing in the summer following the West Midlands side’s relegation from the Premier League, with the shot-stopper standing out as one of the club’s top players in the top flight last term and earning himself a call-up to England’s squad for the European Championships.
He has seemingly become Gareth Southgate’s understudy to Everton’s Jordan Pickford since then after playing in this month’s World Cup qualifier against Andorra – but the Baggies could see him leave The Hawthorns for free next summer with less than 12 months left on his current deal.
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He was the subject of interest from Manchester United, Arsenal and West Ham United during the summer, but it was only the latter who made a concrete move for him, submitting a £6m bid that was swiftly rejected by the Championship side’s officials.
Meanwhile, former club United opted not to invest in a new goalkeeper with David De Gea and fellow England international Dean Henderson as options – and Arsenal deciding to pursue Sheffield United’s Aaron Ramsdale instead.
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Former Baggies man Palmer though believes that a switch to the south coast would make sense for Johnstone when quizzed on if it would be a smart transfer move.
“Yes, it’s a no-brainer (for Southampton to move for him),” Palmer told This is Futbol.
“I think a lot of clubs will be interested in him on a free. I mean, I still don’t understand why he’s not gone.
“If it’s true that they were only asking for £15 million for him, I think at £15 million that’s good business. That’s cheap in today’s market.”
The only reason why many teams were not interested in stumping up a ten-figure fee for his services is due to the fact he has less than a year to run on his contract at a Championship side – and may believe he will leave the West Midlands on the expiration of his contract next summer.
He would be worth every penny of his potential £15m fee and may have even been a much cheaper alternative for Arsenal to Aaron Ramsdale if talks had broken down. but Johnstone was just unlucky.
Midway through the summer, it was clear Ramsdale was Arsenal’s top target and it was reported that West Ham had their sights set on PSG man Alphonse Areola, all but preventing a move for the 28-year-old with the second-tier side holding firm on their price.
You can’t exactly blame the Baggies for rejecting a derisory bid like £6m after seeing him become England’s second-choice goalkeeper – but they may need to be promoted at the end of this campaign if they want to avoid losing him for free.
Johnstone putting contract talks on hold could potentially be indicative of this, so West Brom fans face a nervous wait to see whether their key player signs fresh terms at The Hawthorns after remaining as one of the first names on the team-sheet under Valerien Ismael.