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Crystal Palace are reportedly interested in a move for Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone, who is currently serving a loan spell at Championship outfit Aston Villa. After having joined the esteemed Manchester United academy in 2009, the youngster rose above his competition and established himself as one the top goalkeeping talents at that level. While his displays do look encouraging, it is nearly impossible to dethrone David De Gea, who seems to show no signs of slowing down.
To allow him more playing time, United opted to loan him out on various occasions over the last 6 years. This is, in fact, his second spell with Aston Villa and Johnstone has become quite a favourite for the club. Manager Steve Bruce recognises him as the first-choice keeper and the £5m-rated stopper has repaid Bruce’s trust with 9 clean sheets in 22 appearances this season so far. He is crucial to the team’s good fortunes and they need him if they are to secure a promotion to the top-flight next season.
However, with interest from Crystal Palace, it remains to be seen how the situation plays out. If Johnstone is keen on securing a move to Selhurst Park, Villa will find themselves devoid of a reliable option in goal. A move to join and play regularly for a top-flight team is likely to sound enticing enough for Johnstone.
Although Palace graced the bottom of the points table for a good majority of the season, they have made their way up with Roy Hodgson in charge. If they are to continue their upward trajectory, the Eagles will need a dependable keeper.
After all, Palace are likely to see Wayne Hennessey leave the club once his contract ends by the end of the season. That leaves Julian Speroni to man the goal and at 38, he cannot be a viable long-term option. Moreover, his contract runs until next summer as well and in that regard, Johnstone does seem like a move in the right direction for Palace. That said, it could leave Villa scrambling to find a worthy replacement.
Steve Bruce has had to compete with limited funds and to find a replacement before the end of January could prove to be a cumbersome task, especially with the second-half of the season ahead of us. The club will be hoping that Johnstone decides to stay back but if not, one club’s gain will most definitely be another club’s loss.