Thursday, January 20, 2022

Manchester United set to re-sign former academy graduate


West Bromwich Albion’s goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is attracting interest from various Premier League clubs including his boyhood club Manchester United. And the Red Devils are eyeing a summer move for the Englishman.

Johnstone spent nine years at Old Trafford having come from the club’s academy. After sparingly appearing on the first-team bench, he went out on loan to Aston Villa, before permanently leaving United in 2018. West Brom shelled out £6.5 million for his services. He has gone on to make 127 appearances for the Baggies since then.

He was a key player in West Brom’s promotion to the Premier League last season. And this season, in his first-ever Premier League campaign, Johnstone has performed exceptionally well for a relegation-threatened West Brom. The 28-year-old shot-stopper has a solid 6.80 WhoScored rating this season, pretty outstanding for someone whose team has conceded the most league goals this season.

The Baggies are certain to go down this season, as they are nine points adrift of safety with only four games remaining. As a result, Johnstone will leave the Hawthorns with his former club United interested in him.

Manchester United set to re-sign former academy graduate
Johnstone spent nine years at United. Photo: Daily Express

United’s goalkeeping situation

The Red Devils are pretty well-stocked in the goalkeeping position. Dean Henderson and David de Gea both are vying to be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first-choice goalkeeper. But both earn upwards of £500,000-per-week on wages. However, Lee Grant and Sergio Romero will both leave the club this summer.

De Gea started the season as the first-choice keeper with Henderson playing in cup competitions. But since taking leave for the birth of his child in late February, the Spaniard has not featured in the league, with Henderson starting the last 10 league games. It seems manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has switched their playing competitions. Now Henderson starts in the league, while De Gea plays in the Europa League.

As a result, De Gea is not happy with his changed role at the club. And according to ESPN, the former Atletico Madrid goalkeeper is unlikely to accept a role as a no.2 ahead of next season.

Henderson signed a new deal at the start of the season and he is unlikely to leave the club this summer. So, the club are exploring the possibility of moving De Gea on and sign a replacement this summer.

De Gea and Henderson at United. Photo: The Guardian

United to target Johnstone in summer:

Johnstone’s incredible form this season has seen him attract several Premier League clubs including West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester United. But he prefers a move to the Theatre of Dreams over any other place.

The same report suggests that United are planning to sell De Gea for the right price in the summer. Also, United would instill Henderson as the no.1 goalkeeper with the club looking for an experienced shot-stopper who can play second-fiddle to the Englishman.

The names mentioned are of two former players. Tom Heaton and Sam Johnstone. Johnstone is their obvious choice and West Brom would be forced to sell him if they get relegated. But they will ask for £20 million for his services.

It remains to be seen whether United can ship De Gea out given his astronomical wages and a contract running till 2023. If De Gea leaves, expect Johnstone to re-join United.


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