West Bromwich Albion are set to have a fight on their hands to keep goalkeeper Sam Johnstone at the club over the January transfer window.
The 28-year-old has entered the final year of his current contract at the Hawthorns and has already reportedly attracted the attention of West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur.
And now, according to The Sun’s Alan Nixon, fellow Premier League outfit Southampton have joined the race for Johnstone’s signature, with the Saints keen to secure his services over the winter window.
The report states that: “They (Southampton) are willing to pay rather than wait until he becomes a free agent in the summer. But Johnstone, 28, is settled at the Championship Baggies and looks ready to wait until the end of his contract to decide on his next move.
“And the fact he is now No. 2 in the international squad while playing in the second tier means there is no need for him to jump ship sooner. Both West Ham and Tottenham have pencilled in offers for Johnstone if he leaves, while West Brom have let him know there will be a lucrative deal to stay.”
Despite the report stating that Johnstone is likely to remain at West Brom for the remainder of the campaign, Baggie’s boss Valerien Ismael will still be concerned at this latest revelation.
Johnstone has started ten of Albion’s 11 Championship fixtures so far this season, keeping four clean sheets and conceding just seven goals.
But perhaps more importantly, the Manchester United academy graduate has adapted to Ismael’s style of play with relative ease.
A recent article published by The Atheltic revealed Johnstone has completed 31 keeper-sweepings and has made six-headed clearances already, which is the same as his last three campaigns combined.
Alongside this, he is also down on saves per game and catches per game as he has been forced to become a more modern goalkeeper and appears to be coping well with the change.
Therefore, Ismael will be worried that Johnstone’s potential departure could derail West Brom’s promotion push, condemning them to another campaign in the second tier of English football.
After all, he is one of their most important players and is now a prominent member of the England set up too.