West Brom comment: Sam Johnstone’s future likely to stay up in the air until summer

He’s arguably the most in-demand goalkeeper in the country – with Albion fans desperate to see him remain at The Hawthorns.

West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone
West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone

But it’s likely we’re going to have to wait quite a while before we know where Sam Johnstone’s long-term future lies.

It’s well known the Baggies shot-stopper is out of contract this summer.

It’s also well known Albion have offered him fresh terms in the hope of keeping him at The Hawthorns.

But while he has been outstanding for his club, it’s the progress he has made with his country that has complicated Johnstone’s future.

Soon after Albion won promotion to the Premier League back in 2020, the goalkeeper said in an interview he was targeting a place in the England squad for the European Championships.

At the time, his words felt like a very ambitious target.

But Johnstone not only achieved his goal, he did so in style.

While Albion struggled in the top flight, he didn’t – the goalkeeper showing his Premier League class with outstanding performances week after week.

He deservedly received a first senior international call-up back in March. And since then he has gone from strength to strength with the national side.

Manager Gareth Southgate likes him because he is a quality goalkeeper. But the England boss is known to place a huge emphasis on character and personality when making his selections.

And Johnstone fits into the current England set-up perfectly.

Not only is he a popular member of the group – he also gets on with his job with minimal fuss.

He knows his playing time is likely to be limited and he is currently understudy to Jordan Pickford. But Johnstone gets on with it, impresses when he does play and supports his team-mates when he doesn’t.

As it stands, the 28-year-old is very much England’s second choice goalkeeper. He deserves to go to the World Cup next year.

But Johnstone knows if he is to get on the plane, he has to be playing in the Premier League next season. Pickford, Dean Henderson, Nick Pope and Aaron Ramsdale are likely to be playing in the top tier.

And therefore he has to be as well.

For that reason, it seems unlikely Johnstone will sign the deal Albion have on the table anytime soon.

He knows, as a free agent, clubs in the Premier League will be queuing up to sign him this summer.

Interest is also likely in January – with Southampton believed to be plotting a move.

For Saints, moving for Johnstone at the turn of the year – and paying a fee – is one way they can potentially jump ahead of their rivals.

If he receives an offer too good to refuse, Johnstone may be tempted to leave Albion and return to the Premier League when the transfer window opens.

But it seems more likely he will wait until the summer when he will be an even more attractive proposition for clubs as a free agent.

At that point, Albion will be serious players if they are in the Premier League. The goalkeeper loves playing for the club and is very settled in the West Midlands.

He also knows he will be guaranteed to play – something that is crucial heading into a World Cup year.

It’s very possible Johnstone’s long-term future could still be at The Hawthorns.

But it’s understandable he needs time to assess his options. His rapid progress over the past 18 months means he’s got a lot to think about.

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