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Championship promotion hopefuls Aston Villa have Man United stopper Sam Johnstone at the club until the end of May, but should they push now to get him tied down in Birmingham on a permanent deal?
With Mark Bunn now 32 and Jed Steer yet to play a Championship game this term, Johnstone has wasted no time in firmly establishing himself as Villa’s number one and even after their fall from grace as a top level side, there must still be some level of pride involved for Johnstone to find himself at this club.
Johnstone boasts of 5 clean sheets in the league this season and in fact, has conceded 13 goals in 13 games, something which statistically at least is not bad at all given the overall state of matters. His talent is not in doubt, but a lot depends on whether he feels this is his medium or long-term future.
Even taking the obvious aside (David de Gea), Johnstone realistically won’t get past Sergio Romero or up-and-comer Joel Pereira at Old Trafford. So he may have to begin thinking about life after Man United. Before this one, he embarked on loans to Oldham, Scunthorpe, Walsall, Yeovil, Doncaster and his home town team of Preston and it is time he really finds a permanent home.
From the player’s point of view then, I’d say a permanent contract offer from those in charge at Villa Park would be something he would be unwise to turn down. Would Villa feel the same way though?
It would be wise for them to tempt him in permanently as frankly, I’m not sure they’ll realistically do any better. Last year’s Championship winning ‘keeper Karl Darlow may or may not be available in January. Second-best David Stockdale is now at Birmingham on a permanent basis and the rest in this division may cost more than Johnstone for a similar or not lesser return in terms of quality.
It may cost low for Villa to get Johnstone from Man United and if that is the case, then the deal is a no brainer. Like centre-backs and strikers, having a good goalkeeper in your ranks is absolutely crucial when looking to achieve things and for Villa, not having such a spine could prove very costly.
True, Villa is traditionally known as a big club, but the fact is that when the chips are down, the crowd doesn’t turn up. Soif Leeds, Man City, Sheffield Wednesday and Nottingham Forest can sink to the third tier then there is no doubt Villa can too. Get him signed up!