Sam Johnstone has gone from strength to strength since joining Aston Villa on loan from Manchester United in the January transfer window.
The 24-year-old is arguably the finest goalkeeper in the Championship right now and, after being shipped around the country in a constant stream of temporary deals, extending his stay at Villa until the end of 2017/18 has given Johnstone the chance to nail down a starting place for the foreseeable future.
And Villa boss Steve Bruce hopes the highly-rated shot-stopper will stick around longer than that, too. As reported by The Mirror, the manager confirmed his desire to sign Johnstone on a permanent deal in January.
Championship rivals Sunderland will wish they could boast a goalkeeper of Johnstone’s talent and stature with summer signings Robbin Ruiter and Jason Steele doing little to convince that they have the consistency required to make the grade at one of the league’s biggest clubs.
The Mail reported in June, however, that Sunderland had hoped to bring Johnstone to the Stadium of Light initially as a replacement for Everton-bound Jordan Pickford.
Instead, Villa got their man and Johnstone already looks like one of the most astute signings of the Championship season. And he is unlikely to come cheap if the Midland giants want to turn his loan deal permanent in the winter.
Cash-strapped Sunderland, meanwhile, would not even have the funds to make such a signing possible, having spent less than any other team in the second tier over the summer.
Both Villa and Sunderland dropped into the Championship in disarray in the last two seasons but Villa landing Johnstone while Sunderland are stuck with Ruiter rather sums up the growing gap between the two sides.