Why Sam Johnstone would be an excellent signing for Leeds United

According to the Sun (h/t Daily Star), Leeds United have set their sights on a potential move for West Brom goalkeeper Sam Johnstone next summer. 

The Whites are on the lookout for a replacement for their current No.1 between the sticks, Illan Meslier, with Johnstone emerging on the club’s radar. As per the report, the former Man United academy graduate has also attracted interest from Premier League rivals Brighton as a result of his impressive form for the Baggies in the top-flight this term.

It has also been claimed that West Brom could be forced into selling Johnstone at the end of the season if they fail to ensure safety. The goalkeeper is out of contract at the Hawthorns in 2022 and is expected to be available for a maximum of £7million next summer. 

Johnstone rose through the youth ranks of Man United but never made a competitive appearance for the Red Devils. Having spent time on loan at seven different clubs over seven seasons, the shot-stopper eventually completed a permanent transfer to West Brom in 2018. 

west bromwich albion v aston villa premier league 1
WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 20: Sam Johnstone of West Bromwich Albion warms up ahead of the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Aston Villa at The Hawthorns on December 20, 2020 in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Andrew Boyers – Pool/Getty Images)

He has been the club’s undisputed No.1 ever since and started all of the Baggies’ games in the Championship over the past two seasons, helping them to automatic promotion last term. Despite West Brom’s lacklustre start to life in the top-flight, Johnstone has made a big impression in his debut season in the Premier League. 

Johnstone has done well in all of the club’s league fixtures so far, tallying the most number of saves with 63 (after 15 games) to emerge as one of the best-performing goalkeepers in the PL. The 27-year-old has been a rare bright spark for the Midlands club and was instrumental as Sam Allardyce’s side held the likes of Liverpool and Man City to 1-1 draws. 

Putting things into context, Sam Johnstone ticks plenty of boxes to come through the door as a useful addition to the ranks at Elland Road. The West Brom No.1 has proven his worth as a top-flight keeper this term and Leeds United should definitely consider offering him an escape route next summer if the Baggies end up getting relegated. 

The Whites have continued to rely on Illan Meslier as their No.1 in goal this season after the Frenchman helped them secure promotion with a string of impressive displays in the Championship last term. The youngster has done a decent job so far but his indecisiveness in crucial moments has evoked some criticism. 

west bromwich albion v sheffield united premier league
WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 28: Sam Johnstone of West Bromwich Albion reacts during the Premier League match between West Bromwich Albion and Sheffield United at The Hawthorns on November 28, 2020, in West Bromwich, England. (Photo by Jason Cairnduff – Pool/Getty Images)

With Kiko Casilla out of favour, Marcelo Bielsa would definitely benefit from having an experienced shot-stopper like Johnstone competing for places. Having said that, however, Leeds do not necessarily need to look at the 27-year-old as a replacement for Meslier. It’s always good to have two quality shot-stoppers vying for the No.1 role and Johnstone would be a useful signing in that regard. 

Verdict

While Meslier remains a massive talent at just 20, Leeds United need to give him more time to develop his game and realise his full potential. Having an experienced head like Sam Johnstone could limit his first-team opportunities in the coming seasons, but the French starlet should look to rise to the challenge.

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All top clubs need to have quality competition for places and it’s easy to see why Leeds would benefit from having Johnstone in their ranks for the coming seasons. It’s hard to get good goalkeepers on the cheap these days, meaning Leeds should definitely grab the opportunity to sign the 27-year-old for a knockdown price next summer.