Former West Brom forward Kevin Phillips has suggested that he fears Sam Johnstone could decide to run down his contract now with the Baggies and secure himself a big deal elsewhere at the end of the season.
Johnstone’s future at West Brom had been in doubt during the summer transfer window with Premier League clubs interested in making a move for him.
However, the Baggies have managed to keep hold of the England goalkeeper until at least January despite that interest.
Valerien Ismael has recently revealed that West Brom are in talks with Johnstone over a potential new contract for the keeper. That comes with his current deal set to expire at the end of the campaign.
According to a recent report from The Athletic, Southampton have become the latest side to put Johnstone on their transfer radar.
It is believed that the Saints are considering making a move for the keeper next year with them preparing to allow Fraser Forster to leave the club next summer.
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Speaking to West Brom News, Phillips has suggested that the Baggies would be crazy not to offer Johnstone a new deal at this stage. However, he also fears that the keeper could well just bide his time and rund down his contract to secure a big move elsewhere.
He said: “You’d like to think there are contract negotiations going on in the background now unless the player’s said, ‘I’m going to hang on now and see my contract out and leave on a free in the summer’.
“He could get a massive contract somewhere because a fee won’t have to be paid so it will be interesting to see what will happen.
“I’m sure the club will offer him a deal – they’d be crazy not to.
“In the short-term, it’s great that he hasn’t gone anywhere because he’s going to be a massive part of their season.
“He’ll win many points for West Brom this season, that’s for sure.”
When a player of Johnstone’s quality is heading into the latter stages of their contracts with their club it is always going to be difficult for clubs to keep hold of them and tie them down to new deals.
West Brom are doing the right thing by attempting to negotiate with the England keeper regarding a new deal, and if he were to put pen-to-paper on a new contract then it would be a major statement that the Baggies are heading in the right direction.
The Baggies will have to maintain their strong start to the campaign and show Johnstone that they are going to be able to return to the Premier League next season. If they can do that they he knows that Gareth Southgate will pick him for his England squad this campaign even though he is in the Championship.
However, as Phillips suggests it could come down whether a Premier League club offers him a large deal because they would not have to pay a transfer fee for them. If that happens then he might decide to just run down his deal and leave next summer.