Sam Johnstone endured an awful start to his Aston Villa tenure after joining on loan from Manchester United - but turned that around to enjoy a good spell following Villa’s disastrous start to 2017.
While Johnstone enjoys a mixed relationship with Villa fans - some who won’t forgive him for his early errors and others who are too easy to forget - it seems that Steve Bruce won’t be eyeing up another keeper until Johnstone’s future is resolved. According to the Birmingham Mail, that will likely hinge on Bruce’s meeting with Manchester United’s manager, Jose Mourinho later this week.
Things do seem to point to Villa being able to keep the goalkeeper - as Mourinho and Bruce have already spoke about Johnstone over the phone. The finer details are likely to be ironed out when the pair meet.
Despite Johnstone’s early form - he has arguably been the best goalkeeper in the Championship since the start of 2017, especially when you consider the fact that he helped Villa keep seven clean sheets in an eight match span. Johnstone was a big part of Villa’s late playoff push and could be a big part of next season’s promotion campaign.
There is Premier League interest in Johnstone, but despite that he could remain at Manchester United to serve as an understudy to both David De Gea and Sergio Romero. United. The Red Devils could qualify for the Champions League with a Europa League triumph and that means that Johnstone will hold an important position since both keepers do play first-team football at United in the league and cup games. Mourinho might only let Johnstone out on a loan with a recall option. However, if he is willing to take a gamble, he’d not be short of goalkeeping options on the market and within his own academy.
If Steve Bruce can persuade Mourinho to part with Johnstone, that’s good news. If not, Villa will look elsewhere - but Johnstone has made the Villa Park nets his own and that should continue.