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.”

Manchester United set to announce double goalkeeper transfer announcement

Manchester United are reportedly close to making a double transfer announcement with former Stoke City goalkeeper Lee Grant set to become Jose Mourinho’s third signing of the summer with Sam Johnstone set to leave the club permanently for West Bromwich Albion. Mourinho has been searching for a third choice goalkeeper to be a backup for David De Gea and Sergio Romero with Joel Pereira playing that role for the last 18 months.

However, for Pereira to progress as a good goalkeeper, playing matches would aid his development more than training with the likes of De Gea and Romero day after day. Mourinho is said to rate Pereira highly and since his loan spell with Belenenses in Portugal 18 months ago, the 22-year-old will need to kick on in his career in order to develop as he has the potential to succeed. In a year’s time, the goalkeeping situation at the club could change. De Gea’s contract is due to expire next summer, although United has an option of adding a further year.

It is likely that De Gea will sign a new long-term contract at the Old Trafford club this summer and Romero, although his contract expires in the summer of 2021, might have ambitions to play as a first choice goalkeeper in the future, which would free up one or two places in the squad in that position. Grant’s contract will only be for a year with the club and it is highly unlikely that he will play many matches, if any at all, other than during pre-season with De Gea needing rest after the FIFA World Cup and Romero recovering from an injury which stopped him playing for Argentina.

Earlier this summer, Dean Henderson signed a new two-year deal with United just before heading out to Sheffield United for the new season with a bid to reevaluate his position next summer at the Theatre of Dreams after a season in the Championship, after playing in League Two and League One over the last two seasons. Manchester City signed veteran goalkeeper Richard Wright some years ago and he was the third choice goalkeeper at the club for four years, so this is not as strange as many will make it sound.

Having Pereira in the third choice goalkeeper position will be great for him but if he is not playing, instead of developing him, it will damage his career. Mourinho doing this, which in turn will allow the 22-year-old to head out on loan, playing first team football, is obviously better for footballing reasons. I don’t know why so many people are moaning about it. No matter what the club does now, you always see people moaning about it. We are living in some very strange times.

Grant is not expected to play much football but his experience in the game could help both De Gea and Romero, also the younger goalkeepers, who at stages of the season will be training with the first team, which is something Mourinho, and other managers over the past few years have done. Whilst it could be the end of the road at United for Johnstone, who has still not made a competitive appearance for the club, bringing in £6.5 million, which could rise to £10 million, as reported by the Manchester Evening News, is a great bit of business.

Manchester United seeking £6.5 million for Sam Johnstone this summer

Manchester United have reportedly slapped a £6.5 million price tag on goalkeeper Sam Johnstone ahead of the summer transfer window. The 24-year-old has not yet played a competitive match for the Old Trafford club and only last week it was reported that the club had activated a clause in the player’s contract which would keep him at the Theatre of Dreams for another 12 months. Johnstone has been on loan at Championship club Aston Villa this season as the Birmingham club chase promotion back to the Premier League.

The report in The Sun has suggested that the player has not yet been notified about Jose Mourinho’s plans for him next season, in which he will be greatly behind David De Gea, Sergio Romero, and Joel Pereira in the pecking order. Not yet playing for his club on a competitive level, at his age, will be seen as a negative but for him it was the worst time for him to come through the clubs Academy. Johnstone is a proficient goalkeeper who has plenty of first team experience at other clubs, which has seen him increase his ability and confidence in the game.

Johnstone would prefer to remain at Villa Park permanently and perhaps the club were looking to confirm that in the summer with Johnstone’s contract running out in the summer with the Birmingham club seeking to sign the player, who would have been a free agent at that time. It may be a blow that Villa would have to pay for the player’s services now but if they do win promotion to the Premier League, whether automatically or via the playoffs, they will have a lot of money at their disposal. It is not as if £6.5 million is a big fee for a player anyway.

It is stated in the report that Villa manager Steve Bruce will be seeking a conversation with Mourinho ahead of the summer, possibly in a bid to see if Johnstone will play a part in his plans for next season, which could then propel the Birmingham club to seek out a permanent deal with United. Johnstone recently spoke about him wanting to continue playing football and that he enjoyed the number of games he was playing, which is something he would not be doing at first team level at United, saying:

“I want to keep playing football. I’m enjoying the number of games I’m playing. The Premier League is where you want to be week in, week out. I’d love it for this club to be a part of that next season.”

Johnstone remaining at Villa permanently in the summer would be great for the 24-year-old. He would only be a bit part player at United with the form of David De Gea and even if the Spaniard left Old Trafford, Sergio Romero and Joel Pereira would remain ahead of him, meaning he could be stuck playing Premier League 2 level football, which at 24 is not the sort of ‘competitive’ football he needs to play in to continue to develop. Johnstone would probably like to play for England and with Joe Hart falling from grace, it could be the perfect time for him to show his abilities.

I am not saying Johnstone is good enough to play for England now and lead the team into the FIFA World Cup in Russia, but right now the England team will be needing a massive overhaul to ready the team for the future. England will need to push forward the talented youth who could help make the team become competitive and Johnstone, along with Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland, could be part of that new generation. If so, Johnstone would be considered to still be behind both Pickford and Butland, but if Villa are promoted, next season could see his stock rise further.

Loan Watch: Fosu-Mensah unlucky to see his side lose to Liverpool; Henderson in high spirits after victory

Manchester United have six players currently out on loan with one in the Premier League, two in the Championship, and three in League One. United’s loanee’s this season are Timothy Fosu-Mensah who has been loaned to Crystal Palace, Sam Johnstone at Aston Villa, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson at Leeds United, Devonte Redmond at Scunthorpe United, Dean Henderson at Shrewsbury Town, and Regan Poole at Northampton Town. Here is how I feel each player has fared this week:

Timothy Fosu-Mensah

The Manchester United defender played 90 minutes in the 1-0 defeat to Liverpool in the Premier League at Anfield. Sadio Mane’s goal in the 73rd minute was the difference between the two sides. Crystal Palace may see the start of their season as a negative, beaten by Huddersfield Town last weekend and beaten again, conceding fewer goals, but by a better team. Saying that though, United supporters will not care about results, it is the experience the player gets from his loan spell which really matters. Winning, losing, drawing is all part of football and to be a winner, not only have you got to experience losing, but you have to gain experience, which is what Timothy Fosu-Mensah is starting to get. Two matches into his loan spell, 168 minutes of action. The Dutchman has 64% of his passes reaching a teammate, which is not great but a good starting point. He made two take ons, winning both, won 67% of his tackles, made five interceptions, four clearances and committed one foul.

Sam Johnstone

Sam Johnstone played 90 minutes in the 4-2 victory over Norwich City in the Sky Bet Championship at Villa Park on Saturday. Villa took the lead through Conor Hourihane in the 22nd minute with the player scoring a hat-trick in the victory. Andre Green scored the other goal in the match. Norwich got one goal back, at 2-1 in the 60th minute, getting another (4-2) in the 79th minute of the match. Johnstone did not have the best of matches, only making one save, his distribution being rather terrible (26%) and not really being the big guy between the sticks. Johnstone has not made his Manchester United debut yet, not competitively anyway and with the talent coming through at the club, Joel Pereira being the one of a similar age, Johnstone probably won’t make it at United, which is a shame but only one goalkeeper can play with one or two waiting in the wings. It will be much better to let the player find a career elsewhere. In the Championship, Johnstone has a lot of experience, which should help him for the years he has ahead of him.

Cameron Borthwick-Jackson

Cameron Borthwick-Jackson was an unused substitute in the 2-0 victory over Sunderland in the Sky Bet Championship at the Stadium of Light on Saturday evening. Borthwick-Jackson has played a few timed for Leeds, so this could have been the match whereby he was not needed to start, kept on the bench should he be needed, therefore resting him for what could be a big week with the second round of the Carabao Cup coming up this week with Leeds facing Newport County at Elland Road followed by the Championship clash with Nottingham Forest at the County Ground in a week’s time.

Devonte Redmond

Devonte Redmond was an unused substitute in Scunthorpe United 1-0 victory over Oxford United in the Sky Bet League One clash at Glanford Park. Redmond is on his first loan spell away from United and cannot expect to come straight in and get minutes from day one. He needs to show the manager what he has in his locker and earn his place in the squad, whether a starter, a substitute or a player surplus to the team on a matchday. The experience on his first loan spell will do him good.

Dean Henderson

Dean Henderson played 90 minutes in the  3-2 victory over Rochdale in the Sky Bet League One at Greenhous Meadow on Saturday afternoon. Henderson went head-to-head with former Manchester United Academy player Oliver Rathbone, who now plays for Rochdale. In the first eight minutes of the match, Rathbone had two shots on goal, one save by Henderson (4′) and the other off target (8′). In the 16th minute, Aristote Nsiala gave away a penalty, which was converted by Rochdale’s Steve Davies, sending his shot into the top right corner of the net. On the half hour mark, Shaun Whalley won a penalty, levelling the score from the spot. Carlton Morris doubled Shrewsbury’s lead three minutes later. Davies levelled in for Rochdale in the 63rd minute after Nsiala gave away a second penalty, the third spot kick of the match beating Henderson t the bottom left corner of the net. Stefan Payne won the match for the home side in the 74th minute of the game. Henderson made a fair few saves during the match, playing well and showing signs of becoming a decent goalkeeper which may or may not happen at Manchester United.

Regan Poole

Regan Poole was an unused substitute in the 4-1 defeat to Charlton Athletic in the Sky Bet League One at The Valley on Saturday afternoon. The Welsh defender will no doubt get an opportunity at some point and with him being inexperienced, he cannot expect to be involved in every match this season. Of course, as this was the fourth match of the season the player has not had any minutes in, it could suggest it will be a long loan spell for the defender, who may need to work harder in training to get his chance. Northampton Town manager Justin Edinburgh knows what he can expect from the player having managed him at Newport County, but that does not mean he will be involved week in and week out.

Loan Watch: Timothy Fosu-Mensah makes Palace debut, puts in a great last-ditch tackle too

Manchester United have six players currently out on loan with one in the Premier League, two in the Championship, and three in League One. United’s loanee’s this season are Timothy Fosu-Mensah who has been loaned to Crystal Palace, Sam Johnstone at Aston Villa, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson at Leeds United, Devonte Redmond at Scunthorpe United, Dean Henderson at Shrewsbury Town, and Regan Poole at Northampton Town. This weekend marked the start of the new Premier League season with the Football League starting last weekend. Some of United’s players have played already this season, some are still yet to play. Some may not play at all, it depends on how their respective managers feel they are doing in training. Some players will have been sent out for the experience of fighting for a place in a first team environment, others have been loaned to continue their development, which would not be possible at a higher level at United this season.

Timothy Fosu-Mensah

The Dutch 19-year-old was confirmed as a Crystal Palace player over the last few days with manager Frank De Boer confirming that he would play as a right-sided central defender in the clubs new 3-4-3 formation and as a right back in a 4-3-3 formation. Again Huddersfield Town in the Premier League, Palace played 3-4-3 and it was not the start in the league the players and the manager would have hoped for. Palace were beaten 3-0 by the Premier League new boys, who at this moment in time sit at the top of the table. Fosu-Mensah started the match and played 78 minutes before being replaced by James Tomkins. The young Dutchman played well for his loan club, despite the defeat. In the 63rd minute of the match, he made a great last-ditch challenge on  Steve Mounie, who was through on goal, chasing him down, running on the inside of him and putting in a tackle to drive the ball wide, saving his side from going 3-0 down at the time. Just after Fosu-Mensah was replaced by Tomkins, Huddersfield Town scored their third goal. Palace did not play all that badly in the match and were unlucky in front of goal more than a few times.

Sam Johnstone

Sam Johnstone played 90 minutes for Aston Villa in their 3-0 defeat to Cardiff City. Villa did not play too well and Johnstone conceded goals in the 21st, 60th and 71st minutes of the match. Manager Steve Bruce will not be happy with the performance and will be looking for more from his players, including new captain, John Terry. Villa did play during the week in the Carabao Cup, beating Colchester United 2-1, of which Johnstone did not play a part in. Last weekend, the opening game of the Championship season, Villa drew 1-1 with former Premier League side Hull City. After two matches, Villa sits 21st in the table with a lot of work ahead of them if returning to the Premier League is going to be a possibility for them.

Cameron Borthwick-Jackson

Cameron Borthwick-Jackson played 82 minutes in the 0-0 draw with Preston North End in the Championship. Borthwick-Jackson played as the left-back in the match, after making his debut playing as a left sided central defender in the Carabao Cup during the week. Leeds dominated Preston, had 12 shots on goal and should have perhaps done so much better than they did. Chris Wood could have scored the opening goal in the 67th minute of the match, of which the shot was assisted by Borthwick-Jackson with a cross. In the 72nd minute, Borthwick-Jackson committed a foul but was not booked. In the 82nd minute, Stuart Dallas replaced Borthwick-Jackson. It was not a good day for former United teammate Ben Pearson, who was sent off on the hour. Josh Harrop also came on in the 65th minute of the match but was unable to do anything for his side.

Devonte Redmond

Devonte Redmond was loaned to League One side Scunthorpe United during the summer. In the 1-1 draw away to Rochdale, Redmond was named on the bench but was not called upon during the match. Redmond has been involved in all match squads of the season so far, the opening League One match against Notts County, a 3-3 draw, and the 1-1 draw in the Carabao Cup during the week, which Scunthorpe United won 6-5 on penalties. Redmond will get some minutes this season. It is his first loan spell of his career and perhaps he needs to settle a bit more before making his debut. He must be doing something right to be involved in three matchday squads so far this season.

Dean Henderson

Dean Henderson played 90 minutes in the 1-0 victory over AFC Wimbledon in League One on Saturday. The United youngster did not have much to deal with as Wimbledon only had six shots on goal, two of those on target. It will be good to see the player develop in this tough league this season, the second season he has been involved in loan spells away from the club. Henderson has started all three matches of the season so far, the 1-0 victory over Northampton Town on the opening day of the season and the 2-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest in the Carabao Cup during the week.

Regan Poole

Regan Poole was loaned to Northampton Town during the summer, linking up with former Newport County manager Justin Edinburgh who gave him his chance at the Welsh club before he was sold to Manchester United. Poole was not involved in the 1-0 defeat to Fleetwood Town on Saturday but was an unused substitute in the 1-0 defeat to Shrewsbury United, of which teammate Dean Henderson has been loaned to and the 1-0 defeat to Queens Park Rangers in the Carabao Cup during the week. Edinburgh knows what type of defender Poole is and at some point this season, he should be given his chance. During the last season, Poole was not the best defensively for United’s U23’s, also eligible to play for the U18’s at a point, and clearly he has been sent to develop his skills, possibly United even seeking a club of offload the player at next summer, who knows.

Manchester United goalkeeper has a few admirers this summer…

Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is a wanted man this summer with Premier League teams Leicester City, West Bromwich Albion and Huddersfield Town interested in the player with Championship sides Aston Villa and Middlesbrough also interested in the player. Last season, Johnstone spent the second half of the season on loan at Villa with former United captain Steve Bruce now the manager of the Villa Park club. It is understood that the player is looking to continue his exploits last season with a bid for first team football and being the fourth choice goalkeeper at United this summer and a year remaining on his contract, could see him depart the club either permanently or on loan.

Bruce is, according to reports by the Daily Mail, keen to sign the 24-year-old on loan again, whilst Huddersfield Town and Middlesbrough are both interested in a permanent deal for the player, installing him as their number one goalkeeper next season. Huddersfield manager David Wagner has lost Danny Ward as Liverpool want him to be their third choice goalkeeper next season whereas Gary Monk, the new Boro manager is keen to get a £3 million deal over the lone for Johnstone in the club bid to return to the Premier League next season after their fall from the top-flight last season. Leeds United were another club interested in the United goalkeeper before they signed Felix Wiedwald from Werder Bremen. Johnstone’s representatives at James Grant Sports have stated:

“Sam has a number of options and is considering them all at this moment in time.”

Johnstone is yet to make his competitive Manchester United debut, seemingly missing out due to the form of David De Gea and the fact the number two goalkeepers have been better than the 24-year-old. If the player remains at the Old Trafford club throughout the final year of his contract, it is unlikely that he will be part of the first team picture with Sergio Romero and Joel Pereira will both be ahead of the goalkeeper, should the latter remain at the club past this summer. It has been unfortunate for Johnstone, who seems to have come through the club’s Academy at a time whereby he has had De Gea as the number one at the club, which would take a big performance for him to break through.

Johnstone’s resurgence in the Championship with Aston Villa last season suggests he has all the attributes to become a decent goalkeeper, but at his age, he needs to be playing regular first team football rather than sitting and waiting for an opportunity which just does not seem to be coming for him. United may not be able to command a big fee for the goalkeeper, with £3 million seemingly on the table, or it could be from Middlesbrough. Whether the player leaves Old Trafford permanently this summer remains to be seen. Villa could well be his destination once again on loan, seeing his contract expire at the club in a year’s time, which may see him being able to sign for Villa next summer as a free agent.

copyright: JW