West Bromwich Albion manager Valerien Ismael has dropped a promising hint on the future of Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.
In recent comments cited by Birmingham Live, the Baggies boss revealed that he is confident Johnstone will put pen to paper on a new deal at The Hawthorns, despite the reported interest in the 28-year-old’s services from the Premier League.
When asked about the current progress of the England international’s contract talks, the Frenchman said: “I don’t think it will be a short-term story. We need more time with him, but we are talking and this is the most important thing. He’s open, he’s happy, he’s shown from day one since he came back that he has the right attitude.
“We saw in the games already his quality, and he has a perfect environment to improve. I think our way to play is perfect for him. He needs to cement altogether that feeling – at the moment, communication is the most important thing for all parties.
“It’s a good feeling that we’re still talking, everything can happen and we have a good chance to extend his contract.
“It’s a key position, but we must accept the situation. He has one year left on his contract and now we try to extend it. We need to see in the next few months which position we’re in, because the more we win, the more we stay where we are, the more we have a chance of extending his contract.”
With Ismael’s comments providing a very clear message regarding the future of Johnstone at The Hawthorns, in that the closer Albion are to the top of the Championship table and subsequently nearing a return to the Premier League, the more chance the club have of tying the goalkeeper down to a new deal, the fact that West Brom have enjoyed a fantastic start to their 2021/22 campaign will have left fans of the club buzzing.
Indeed, with the 28-year-old’s deal expiring next summer, in theory, the Baggies have plenty of time to convince the £7.2m-rated man to remain at the club beyond his current contract.
And, should West Brom indeed go on to secure promotion come next May, retaining the shot-stopper would certainly appear to provide Ismael with a much greater chance of keeping his side in the top flight in the following campaign.
As such, with it very much appearing as if promotion is the key to keeping the 28-year-old in West Brom colours beyond next summer, Ismael’s side have all the more motivation to go on and secure a top-two finish in the Championship this season – something that seems a very real possibility after picking up 13 points from their opening five games.