Southampton have been handed a potential boost in their pursuit of West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone…
According to The Sun, Southampton transfer target Sam Johnstone has put talks over a fresh contract at West Brom on hold to focus on Championship action, with his deal set to expire at the end of the season.
The Saints are reportedly interested in a swoop for the England international as Ralph Hasenhuttl goes in search of a new number one, as is expected.
Southampton chief Martin Semmens must ensure that he can get a deal over the line for Johnstone in 2022 and this update could hand him a boost in his efforts.
As it stands, West Brom are top of the Championship after six games. This suggests that an immediate return to the top-flight could be on the cards for the club, which could persuade Johnstone to ignore interest from elsewhere to remain in the Midlands, but there is still hope for the Saints as it is still very early in the season.
There is plenty of time for the Baggies to wobble and Johnstone stalling on talks over a new contract opens the door for Southampton to move for him if West Brom do start to struggle.
The £28k-per-week beast has already proven that he can excel at Premier League level. Former West Brom boss Sam Allardyce hailed Johnstone as ‘one of the best’ last season and praised his impact on the side. He said:
“He’s one of the best. I think that’s pleasing to see as he’s one of the two most important people in your team.
“The goalscorer is the first and your goalkeeper is the second.
“He’s right up there at the right level and he’d already saved more shots than anybody before yesterday.
“The defence was so good yesterday that Sam had little or nothing to do. That one brilliant save was a magnificent save when we needed it, but we limited Liverpool to hardly any shots on target and we had more than them.”
Last season, Alex McCarthy conceded 8.1 more goals than he was expected to based on Expected Goals Against. Johnstone, meanwhile, prevented 4.1 goals as he performed to a higher level than the average goalkeeper was expected to.
This suggests that the West Brom man could be a sizeable improvement on McCarthy, as he showed last term that he is a vastly superior shot-stopper.
The Saints must do all they can to snap him up for free in 2022.