Aston Villa are in a difficult situation. As manager Steve Bruce has made clear on countless occasions, the Midland club would love to sign Sam Johnstone on a permanent deal from Manchester United after the goalkeeper spent the last 11 months on loan at Villa Park.
But it’s not that simple. The Sun claims that United may exercise their re-call option in January and sell Johnstone for a decent fee.
Villa’s local rivals West Brom are willing to pay £4 million. And, thanks to Financial Fair Play restrictions leaving Villa relying on loans or cut price deals, it’s a fee that they cannot afford to match right now.
So although Johnstone told the Express and Star recently that his only focus was on securing promotion for Bruce’s high-flying challengers, it appears his future could be out of his own hands.
Though as the Birmingham Mail point out, earning a place back in the Premier League, and the prize money such an achievement would provide, is the only way Villa can get hold of the funds required to sign Johnstone on a permanent basis.
The report states that Villa would love to sign Johnstone in January – but are fully aware that they would have no problem stumping up that £4 million fee if they finish in the Championship’s top two, or go up via the play-offs.
Nonetheless, there is a lot of hopeful ‘ifs’ involved in an increasingly complex deal. With United capable of re-calling Johnstone next month, it appears Bruce is relying on his former club showing a little patience and allowing Villa time to get the money together.