West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is unlikely to leave the club in the January transfer window despite Premier League interest in the summer, according to Birmingham Live’s Joe Chapman.
The 28-year-old remained at The Hawthorns in the summer following a rejected £6m bid from West Ham United for his services in July, with other interested clubs Manchester United and Arsenal not following up on their initial interest and the latter deciding to relentlessly pursue Aaron Ramsdale instead to compete with Bernd Leno at the Emirates.
After standing out as one of the more accomplished shot-stoppers in the Premier League last term, despite not being able to save the Baggies from relegation, he was selected by England for the Three Lions’ Euro 2020 campaign this summer in the absence of Burnley’s Nick Pope.
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He made an exceptional debut against Romania in Gareth Southgate’s side’s final friendly before the international tournament, also impressing England’s goalkeeping coaches during the tournament and seemingly becoming Jordan Pickford’s understudy after appearing in the Three Lions’ World Cup qualifier against Andorra earlier this month.
With this, it was a major surprise that West Brom were able to keep him following their relegation, after they were previously resigned to losing him in the summer.
However, it isn’t all good news for Valerien Ismael’s side. He is set to leave on a free transfer next summer with his contract coming to an end in less than 12 months – and it was revealed recently that the goalkeeper had halted contract talks in a bid to focus on the Baggies’ promotion push.
In a latest update on his the 28-year-old’s situation at The Hawthorns, Birmingham Live’s Joe Chapman said: “I don’t envisage a January exit unless there’s some offer which blows Albion away.
“If Albion are a Premier League team this time next year, then the likelihood is that Sam Johnstone will have signed a new contract. The longer the wait goes on, he’s lining his ducks in a row, there will be those question marks.
“Will he still be in the Championship next season if Albion are? I think that’s a pretty definitive no.”
A major source of encouragement for West Brom fans is the fact Chapman believes he will still be at The Hawthorns this time next year if they are promoted back to the Premier League, even despite previous interest from the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United.
Tottenham Hotspur are also interested in a move for him, but the situation with the 28-year-old is seemingly becoming clearer, especially after seeing him put further contract negotiations on hold.
He is likely to run down his contract in the West Midlands to see how his side progresses throughout the 2021/22 campaign.
They may have a talented manager in Valerien Ismael, but promotion isn’t guaranteed with the likes of AFC Bournemouth, Fulham and Sheffield United all strong favourites for a Premier League return with a selection of other teams in the mix too.
But somehow, the Baggies must put this situation behind them for the moment, otherwise it will become a distraction and could be detrimental in their bid to get back to the top flight, almost certainly costing them Johnstone in the process.
Losing him on a free would be gutting, so this should be used as an extra source of motivation to win promotion at the first time of asking. Anything less will be seen as a failure and that will be compounded by the possible misery of losing their most valuable player after Matheus Pereira’s departure.