West Brom are facing a critical period in their campaign in the run-up to the January transfer window and Valerien Ismael’s side need to keep in the automatic promotion race.
The Baggies head into the final international break before the New Year in third place in the table, but they are six points adrift of Fulham in second and eight points behind leaders AFC Bournemouth.
Those gaps are not ones that they can not overhaul but it is going to be very difficult and require better performances and results.
If West Brom can close the gap, or at least avoid the points gap widening to the top two by January then there is a chance that a strong transfer window might help them to overtake one of Fulham and Bournemouth and secure promotion.
To that end, it is obviously essential that the Baggies do not lose any of their most important players during the winter window.
At the moment, the major pressing concern has to be over Sam Johnstone’s future considering the keeper has not signed a new deal despite West Brom wanting him to do so.
Given that Johnstone’s contract is up in the summer it might seem on the face of it that losing him for free next summer would be a major oversight.
However, the Baggies only received an offer of around £6 million from West Ham in the summer for him so it is unlikely they will get a significant transfer fee beyond that now in January.
Therefore, West Brom would surely be better off keeping hold of the England international because he has the quality to make crucial saves that might earn them enough points to secure promotion to the Premier League. The money that would come with that far outweighs any fee they could recoup for him in the winter window.
The latest report from the Daily Mail has suggested that the Baggies are now virtually resigned to losing their star goalkeeper at the end of the campaign at the latest. That comes with both West Ham and Southampton still keen on adding the England international to their squads.
However, the report added that West Brom might be prepared to consider cashing in on Johnstone in January if they were to be offered around £10 million for him.
That might offer some encouragement to West Ham or Southampton and considering that both clubs are interested, one might want to pay £10 million in January to ensure that they win the race for his signature.
A fee of £10 million would be able to be put to good use by the Baggies in January, but signing players in the winter is notoriously challenging and the chances of them finding a quality replacement from a side willing to lose their keeper at that stage in the season is low.
Therefore, West Brom must not allow the keeper to leave in January even if they are offered a fee of around £10 million.
It would be worth gambling on him making enough difference to help them earn promotion and then they could spend the summer window finding the right replacement.