This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict’ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Southampton have joined the race for West Brom and England goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, as per a report from The Sun.
The Saints join Tottenham Hotspur in pursuit of the 28-year-old, according to Football Insider, whilst West Ham United were interested in the summer.
Johnstone has four clean sheets to his name this Championship season, conceding just seven goals in ten games thus far.
The goalkeeper also represented England last night in their World Cup qualifier against Andorra, providing an assist for Jack Grealish with an intelligent and perfectly-executed throw.
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Here, we take a look at how three of our writers here at FLW view Southampton’s interest in the West Brom shot-stopper…
I like the sound of this a lot more than the Tottenham Hotspur rumour. There is a possibility that West Bromwich Albion could leapfrog Southampton and earn promotion where the Saints are relegated this season.
Johnstone will want Premier League football next season as a priority and if that looks more likely with the Baggies than the Saints by January then he will not go to St Mary’s. The Saints are one point above the drop without a league win this season, there is room for Johnstone to come in and succeed with Alex McCarthy and Fraser Forster fading talents at top-flight level.
Johnstone’s assist in the England spotlight against Andorra will keep the rumour mill spinning with distribution such an important skill for a keeper in modern football.
Johnstone is experienced, both domestically and now internationally, and can still be viewed as a long-term option at 28 as a reliable, Premier League-standard goalkeeper.
He was one of the Baggies’ standout players last term and considering the top-tier side’s current form, failing to win any of their opening seven league games, they could do with him right now.
Whether they recruit him in January remains to be seen, but he would be a relatively cheap option to pursue if the shot-stopper continues to stall on a new contract with his deal running out next summer.
They may need to fork out a decent wage for him though with other teams interested in his services and the Baggies in talks over a new deal for him.
He would be worth a higher wage though, although Johnstone may hold off making the move to St Mary’s until Southampton can lift themselves away from relegation danger.
This does look like it would be a very good signing for Southampton.
Johnstone was excellent for West Brom in the Premier League last season despite their relegation from the top-flight, so he could certainly do a job at St Mary’s.
With neither Alex McCarthy or Fraser Forster really looking like being a long-term first-choice option between the posts for the Saints either, you feel they could do to bring in a potential new number one, and Johnstone would be an solid option to fill that role.
The level of interest there is in him also means this would be a big coup for Southampton, so this is surely one they have to pursue as we approach the January window.