West Bromwich Albion have been warned about allowing Sam Johnstone’s contract situation to roll into January.
In a recent interview with West Brom News, the former Albion centre-forward Kevin Phillips warned Valerien Ismael that not tying the 28-year-old down to a new deal before the start of the January transfer window would be disastrous for the club, as the goalkeeper would be free to talk to other teams about a potential move on a free at the end of the season.
Speaking about Johnstone’s future, Phillips said: “January comes around fast. It’s only three months away and you’re into January so before you know it, it’ll be on top of you. If you haven’t got it sorted then he can talk to people and behind the scenes, things will be happening.
“It’s a slight concern. You don’t want that going on when you want to challenge for promotion, you don’t want an upheaval for your main goalkeeper. You’d like to get that new deal done as quickly as you can as long as the player wants to stay and wants to get it done.
“From my experience, I’d want that done now so it doesn’t distract away from what they’re wanting to do.”
With it being reported that Johnstone is waiting to see exactly how West Brom’s Championship campaign pans out before putting pen to paper on a new deal at The Hawthorns, the situation Phillips is warning the Baggies about appears to be a very real possibility, and is something that should have Ismael worried.
Indeed, it would be far from ideal for West Brom to be pushing for promotion in the second half of the season while arguably their most important player may be planning an escape route out of the club, as Johnstone’s attention would naturally not be 100% focused on doing all he can to help his side go on to secure a top-two spot in the league.
Furthermore, the uncertainty surrounding the £28k-per-week shot-stopper would also more than likely be playing on the Frenchman’s mind, as, if the 28-year-old has not signed a new deal by January, Ismael would undoubtedly be questioning whether or not the man Micah Richards dubbed an “exceptional” player is committed to the club, as well as beginning to think about who he could sign to replace the England international next summer.
These are all distractions that West Brom could do without in their push for an immediate return to the Premier League, leading us to believe that it would indeed be a very smart move to determine, one way or another, what Johnstone is planning to do with his future before the January transfer window kicks off.