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Sam Johnstone leaves Manchester United for West Bromwich Albion

Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone has left the Old Trafford club after coming through the clubs academy in 2009. Johnstone had not made a single competitive appearance for his club but had played during pre-season with stars such as David De Gea not involved due to international competition. Johnstone, 25 had been loaned out to clubs since 2011 with spells at Oldham Athletic, Scunthorpe United, Walsall, Yeovil Town, and two spells at Doncaster Rovers, Preston North End, and Aston Villa, where he finished last season.

Johnstone was always going to face problems in earning his place at United with David De Gea the mainstay in the goalkeeping position at the club along with the likes of Anders Lindegaard, Sergio Romero and even Joel Pereira who have all played as the second or even third choice goalkeeper at the club. Johnstone’s contract at United was due to expire this summer but when he signed the contract, an option of a further year was inserted, which was activated earlier this year. A fee of £6.5 million has been suggested, which could rise to £10 million.

Johnstone rose to prominence whilst at Aston Villa last season, playing half a season at the club the season before. He made 70 appearances in both loan spells, keeping 30 clean sheets, which is close to one clean sheet every two matches. Despite Johnstone being a competent goalkeeper, being at United was never going to see him take the number one shirt at the club, not whilst De Gea and Romero were still there, let alone other talented goalkeepers rising from the clubs academy, who may have to do the same thing and leave the Old Trafford club.

Dean Henderson recently signed a new two-year contract and was immediately loaned out to Championship side Sheffield United for the entire 2018/19 season and it is understood that he will reevaluate his position at the club in a year’s time, which could see a place in the squad for him. Joel Pereira could also find himself leaving the club on loan with United close to signing Lee Grant this summer. Johnstone will no doubt be another United academy graduate who has gone on to forge a career for himself in the game, albeit away from United.

The 25-year-old has played for England from U16 to U20 and will be seeking to find a way to play for his country. He could find the same problem he found at United with Jordan Pickford, Jack Butland, and Nick Pope all ahead of him this summer in the FIFA World Cup squad, which could see him end up not only failing to achieve a debut at United but also for England. Johnstone will find his feet and be the goalkeeper his new club wants him to be and I am sure he will be a name to look out for in the Championship this coming season as the Baggies look for promotion.

On leaving United, Johnstone who has been at the club for 15 years spoke to the official Manchester United website, saying:

“I’ve grown up at United and has the most amazing time, it’s the best club to learn when you are a young player and prepare you for the future. I have been here since I was 10-years-old so it’s a sad day for me to leave permanently.

“The last few seasons I have been playing week in-week out on loan so I felt it was the right time to settle down and I can’t wait to do this at West Bromwich Albion. Thank you to everybody for the support and I wish United the best luck in the upcoming seasons.”

Speaking to the official West Bromwich Albion website about his move to the club, who will be seeking a return to the Premier League next season, Johnstone said:

“I’m happy to be here. I’ve spoken to a lot of people about the club and heard nothing but good things.

“It’s good to get through the door. I’ve played Championship games and won a promotion from League One with Preston but always seemed to end back at Manchester United or going somewhere else.

“Now it’s time to settle down and take my game up to the next level which I believe I can do here.”

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