Noel Whelan has endorsed West Bromwich Albion shot-stopper Sam Johnstone as a potential replacement for Hugo Lloris at Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur, speaking in an interview with Football Insider.
The 28-year-old has reportedly been the subject of interest from Spurs in recent months, although they aren’t the only Premier League side looking to secure his signature after becoming England’s second-choice goalkeeper under Gareth Southgate.
Southampton are another side thought to be monitoring his situation at The Hawthorns, with Arsenal, Manchester United and West Ham United previously interested in signing him during the summer window.
Quiz: Do you know what club these 28 ex-West Brom players are playing at now?
In the end, it was only the latter that submitted a concrete offer for Johnstone, having a £6m bid rejected in mid-July as the Hammers shortlisted him as a potential alternative to Alphonse Areola, who eventually moved to the London Stadium later in the window.
Despite this rebuffed offer though, interest in the 28-year-old’s services is unlikely to cease in the coming months with his contract expiring next summer and yet to agree fresh terms at the second-tier side to extend his stay.
As per Sky Sports, Albion are set to ramp up talks with the England international in January in a desperate bid to tie him down to a new deal after seeing previous talks stall, although it would be hard to see him competing in the Championship again next season if his current side fails to be promoted.
Instead, ex-Leeds forward Whelan believes Tottenham should be after the West Brom goalkeeper due to his ability and reasonably young age, saying: “I’m sure Martinez will have a good contract at Aston Villa, he’s only just gone there.
“It is inevitable that Lloris is going to leave, but Spurs would have to pay over the odds for Martinez.
“You’ve got Sam Johnstone – a good, young, England international in the Championship.
“He is somebody who would be worth pursuing.
“We’ve seen how well Aaron Ramsdale has done at Arsenal since stepping up.
“I think there’s a lot to be said for having English goalkeepers – it gives you the opportunity to organise better.
“He’s a brilliant age, there’s a lot of football left in that kid.”
Whelan is right to make the Johnstone comparison to Ramsdale, and it would be criminal not to see the 28-year-old back in the Premier League after becoming such a big part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad, seemingly climbing above the likes of Nick Pope and Dean Henderson in the pecking order.
The fact he’s in the Championship and managed to do that just shows his ability – and his reliability is exactly why Spurs should be taking a look at the shot-stopper during the January transfer window and beyond.
Negotiating a cut-price fee during the January window could be a possibility with his deal in the West Midlands expiring in just a matter of months – and could be worth doing with clubs likely to swoop in during the winter and try and take Johnstone before others get to him in the summer.
Even under a new man in Antonio Conte, the Premier League giant’s recruitment team are still likely to have him on their radar as a potentially shrewd and cheap addition in the next 12 months, and would be daft not to make an offer for him.
And with other areas they may want to address, bringing in a goalkeeper for free or a low fee can only be a bonus for the North London outfit.