Whether it’s in January or in the summer, West Bromwich Albion look set to lose goalkeeper Sam Johnstone to the Premier League.
The Baggies are aiming to return to the top-flight at the first time of asking this season, but regardless of their fate, Johnstone is likely to depart.
Albion did well to keep hold of Johnstone in the summer. With only a year remaining on his deal, West Ham fell short of the Baggies’ demands and were unable to wrap up a deal for the shot-stopper.
Three months into the campaign, and having impressed for both club and country of late, Southampton have now reportedly joined Spurs and West Ham in the race to sign him.
Whether he leaves on a free at the end of the season, or whether he leaves for a cut-price fee in January, Johnstone’s contract situation will ultimately play a part in a move.
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Albion have let his contract run down to a point where he is approaching six months left on his deal, and his value, despite his impressive performances, has decreased.
One thing Albion cannot to do, then, is let that be the case with other players, with the likes of Jake Livermore also out of contract in the summer.
Livermore has been an integral player under Valerien Ismael so far this season. The captain has started in each of their 11 Championship games so far, and his performances have been impressive.
Livermore has been a massive player for Albion in recent years, making 168 appearances and playing a key role in their last promotion from the Championship.
Whilst he may be 31 and hardly one for the long-term, he is their captain and leader in the middle of the park, and someone they’d want to stay around for a long time.
In January, he will have six months left on his contract, and he would also be allowed to speak to other clubs on a potential pre-contract agreement.
Albion may lose one battle, but they need to be on top of another.