In what has been an abysmal season all round for West Brom, there has been one shining light in goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.
However, with his impressive exploits comes an interest in his services ahead of the summer transfer window, especially with the Baggies staring down the barrel at an instant return to the Championship.
According to The Sun, the 27-year-old is a target for Spurs should Hugo Lloris leave the club, which may become an increasing possibility as he’ll be in the final year of his contract come to the end of the current campaign.
Despite holding the worst defensive record in the division, Johnstone has performed immensely – no goalkeeper has faced more shots on target and none have matched his impressive 96 saves, as per FBRef.
Former PL veteran Paul Robinson has also backed him to remain in the big time, he told Football Insider:
“He has had a fantastic season. He is knocking on the door of an international call-up. I genuinely think he will stay in the Premier League if West Brom go down.”
And now The Athletic’s Steve Madeley believes academy product Alex Palmer would be the ‘obvious’ choice to step-up, even despite having the vastly-experienced David Button on their books, adding that he’d be a ‘perfect’ understudy to the U23 shot-stopper.
The ever-reliable journalist claims that the Baggies have always had a long-term plan for the 24-year-old and that it would be a natural move to play in the Championship next season, for Albion or for somebody else.
Indeed, the Midlands club, who have battled with poor finances all season, could save themselves millions this summer if they were to follow that exact path.
Palmer is a natural and cheap heir to Johnstone’s throne.
As outlined by Madeley, the young glovesman has done everything asked of him across loan spells in League One and League Two, the latter of which saw him gain a glowing endorsement from Plymouth boss Ryan Lowe.
“Alex is a terrific goalkeeper. He has got ambitions of playing at the highest level. He has come here to help us but he has also come here ultimately to get into West Brom’s team,” he told the Argyle Chat podcast (via the Plymouth Herald), before adding: “He’s an outstanding talent.”
Palmer is now impressing for Michael Appleton’s league-leading Lincoln City side, where the Baggies loanee ranks fourth in the division for save percentage (76.7%) whilst no other ‘keeper has managed as many as his 13 clean sheets, as per FBRef.
He only has one more clean sheet to make to match his tally for Argyle the season before.
If Sam Allardyce is still in charge this summer, then he could save the club millions – should Johnstone depart – by promoting Palmer into the first-team fold, evidently, he’s in a similar mould to the Albion no.1 and has been groomed with this very moment in mind.
That time will come if the former Man U man keeps up his impressive form.
AND in other news, U23 gem could be the perfect Matheus Pereira heir