Sam Johnstone, Manchester United‘s reserve goalkeeper, will be moving to West Bromwich Albion.
The Baggies have replaced Watford-bound Ben Foster with the 25-year-old. The transfer fee is an initial sum of £6.5 million, which could rise to £10 million.
Johnstone was a key member of Aston Villa’s starting XI last season. The loan spell has done him a world of good, and should stand him in good stead in the Premier League.
The custodian started in goal for 48 Championship games. Villa made it to the Championship Playoff Final last season. He made an average of 2.9 saves per game, and was an ever-present without losing his run of form.
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Ben Foster, the keeper Johnstone will be replacing, is a United product as well. Having served as a backup goalkeeper in the first team for 5 years, he moved to Birmingham in 2010, before a loan spell and a permanent switch to West Brom.
The Baggies are getting a good, young replacement with upside. Johnstone’s age and ability indicate that he could still improve with time.
The 25-year-old’s first taste of the senior pros came 5 years ago with Doncaster. He then spent the next 6 months with Yeovil. Following a return to United gone awry, he earned a move to Preston. This didn’t give him much playing time either, which prompted a move to Villa in 2016 with much greater success.
West Brom have the benefit of parachute payments to ease their drop to the second tier. They seem fairly confident of keeping several of their key players in their bid for automatic promotion.
Keeping their squad together will be a priority. Without players of Premier League quality, a drop to the lower leagues can often result in the unforgiving English Football Leagues.
West Brom have had a history as a yo-yo club, and they would do well to earn automatic promotion next season with Johnstone between the sticks.