Manchester United’s academy product Sam Johnstone is the subject of interest from two Championship clubs, according to ESPN. Wigan Athletic and Aston Villa are reportedly keeping tabs on the possibility of a loan move for the 23-year-old who finds himself third in the pecking order at Old Trafford.
Despite David De Gea and Sergio Romero being selected ahead of the Englishman on a consistent basis and the fact he is yet to make his competitive first team debut, the young goalkeeper did not hold back penning a new deal at the club in October, which extends his stay until 2018, at least. Johnstone has also enjoyed loan spells at Oldham Athletic, Scunthorpe United, Walsall, Yeovil Town, Doncaster Rovers and Preston North End since 2011.
However, Jose Mourinho is thought to be quite an admirer of the Preston-born shot stopper and is keen to keep the youngster sweet in order to ensure he remains at the club in the long run. Johnstone has made five appearances for Manchester United’s under 23 side in the Premier League Two this campaign, within that he has kept two clean sheets and conceded four times. The keeper has been in the match-day squad for the first team on just two occasions so far this season, although he often travels with the side to participate in the warm up before a fixture along with the two more senior goalkeepers.
With Wigan suffering a huge blow in the form of Adam Bogdan’s long term injury and former United man Steve Bruce on the search to bolster his option’s between the sticks at Villa, there’s reportedly two big opportunities for Johnstone to go out and impress United’s Portuguese boss and his staff. No doubt, working with De Gea, who is arguably the best goalkeeper in the world and a man as experienced on an international stage as Romero day in day out is a huge opportunity for the former England youth player, but a consequence of that means limited playing time, as he is finding out.
There has been no form of public unrest or frustration from the player himself, he is showing a professional attitude throughout, which could say something about his character. In all honesty, should a loan request come in from a side where he will be first choice goalkeeper for the remainder of the season, then he and the club should welcome that with open arms, it would be a huge opportunity for him to go out and showcase the skills he has potentially developed during the Mourinho era, so far.
As for Johnstone’s long term future, for now, it remains very much in the balance. A good loan spell away from the club may earn him more playing time back in Manchester, albeit, due to De Gea’s reasonably young age for a goalkeeper it is difficult to see him becoming first choice unless the Spaniard leaves. That second choice spot is very much up for grabs, though. The 23-year-old is also, in my opinion, more than capable to nail the role down as his, in the future.