Former Leeds United defender Danny Mills believes the futures of West Bromwich Albion duo Sam Johnstone and Matheus Pereira are out of manager Valerien Ismael’s hands this summer in an interview with the Football Insider, with both generating considerable interest.
The Baggies’ relegation from the Premier League last season has increased speculation over the pair’s future and this uncertainty has continued into pre-season as new boss Ismael takes the reins at The Hawthorns.
Pereira, 24, has been subject of a recent €7m bid from Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal according to journalist Ekrem Konur, a bid that is unlikely to be accepted by the Baggies board with the Brazilian still having three years left to go on his current deal in the West Midlands.
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Although Al-Hilal have made the most recent move for the attacker, he has also attracted interest from the English top flight and Germany, with Leicester City, Leeds United, West Ham and RB Leipzig all reported to be monitoring the 24-year-old.
After recording 11 goals and six assists in the Premier League last season, this interest is no real surprise and the Championship side will be bracing themselves for further bids to come in later in the summer.
Meanwhile, 28-year-old Sam Johnstone is on his way back from international duty after acting as Jordan Pickford’s understudy during the European Championships, but it was his domestic performances last season that have impressed many clubs, including Manchester United, West Ham and Arsenal.
With the goalkeeper only having one year remaining on his contract in the West Midlands and little prospect of signing a new one whilst the Baggies are still in the second tier, he looks set for an exit this summer and Valerien Ismael is expecting both to leave the club during this window.
Pundit Danny Mills believes this transfer decision over the duo has been taken out of the Frenchman’s hands and has explained a possible reason why the West Brom manager made these revealing comments.
In an interview with the Football Insider, Mills said: “He’s letting the fans know that this is not my decision.
“I’ve come in, they both want to leave, they’re looking to move on. This is nothing to do with me. It’s not that I don’t want them here.
“Maybe he’s trying to get ahead of it and appease the fans who are probably thinking ‘Some of these players might want to leave.’
“Fans have to be realistic and maybe that lowers expectations a little bit.
“It’s the manager saying ‘I’d love to keep them but it’s nothing really to do with me’.”
Sam Johnstone’s situation is one the Baggies desperately need to resolve in this window, with an interested club able to sign the 28-year-old on a pre-contract agreement in January and with that, they face the prospect of losing a current England international for free.
He was reportedly pushing Dean Henderson to be second choice goalkeeper for his country, even before the Manchester United stopper was forced to pull out due to a hip injury. So it’s time to cash in on him now if he doesn’t sign a new deal.
With Pereira, they can take a tougher negotiating stance but at the same time, there’s no point in keeping an unhappy player and the 24-year-old deserves another chance in the Premier League next season after putting in some wonderful displays.
Ismael’s obvious and understandable desire to keep both ahead of a possible promotion charge would be a heart-over-head decision – and the Baggies must be wise and take a route that’s best for the club.
That means cashing in on the likes of Johnstone and Pereira this summer could be in their best interests, both financially and for squad morale, and then potentially giving the new appointment a chance to re-invest that money back into his existing squad.