Kevin Phillips has dropped a claim on the future of West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.
In a recent interview with West Brom News, the Sky Sports pundit stated his belief that, should the Baggies receive a sizeable offer for the 28-year-old this month, they will more than likely cash in on the England international as a result of his contract situation, with his current deal due to expire at the end of the season.
However, the former Premier League centre-forward went on to suggest that, if Albion were to lose the services of the former Manchester United ‘keeper – who has been linked with Tottenham, West Ham, Newcastle and Rangers this month – it would come as a huge blow to Valerien Ismael’s chances of automatic promotion from the Championship.
Speaking about Johnstone’s future, Phillips said: “It’s always a difficult one. You can look at it from two points of view – the club’s point of view and then about getting the club back to the Premier League.
“From a business point of view, if a big offer comes in, it wouldn’t surprise me if the club took it because he could walk away for free in the summer. I would like to see the club wanting him to stay, but it’s business. I’d like to see the player himself help get the club back to the Premier League. If he was to leave, it would be a huge blow.”
Considering how impressive Johnstone has been for West Brom since his £6.5m move to The Hawthorns in 2018, the loss of the goalkeeper this month would undoubtedly come as a huge blow to Albion’s chances of securing a top-two finish in the current campaign, as Phillips has said.
Indeed, over his 24 Championship appearances this season, the £7.2m-rated stopper has kept 11 clean sheets, in addition to making 1.4 saves and 1.7 successful runs out per match. These returns have seen the 28-year-old average a SofaScore match rating of 6.82, ranking him as Ismael’s 14th-best player in the league.
However, it was undoubtedly over his 37 Premier League outings last term that the England international solidified his reputation as a top-class option between the sticks, with the £32.5k-per-week ace keeping six clean sheets and making 4.5 saves per match – the most of any ‘keeper in the league.
These metrics saw Johnstone earn an astonishing seasonal SofaScore match rating of 7.03, ranking him as the Baggies’ second-best player in the division – a quite remarkable feat considering the club’s ultimate relegation from the top flight.
As such, it is clear for all to see that the loss of the 28-year-old would come as a significant blow to West Brom’s chances of securing a return to the Premier League this year. That leads us to believe that it would be worth keeping Johnstone around until the end of the season, before waving goodbye to him on a free transfer this summer.