If you overlook that dreadful miskick in Aston Villa’s recent defeat to Fulham, Sam Johnstone has barely put a foot wrong since joining the Midlands club on loan from Manchester United in January 2017.
Villa were conceding soft goals left and right and centre before the goalkeeper’s arrival, but his presence between the sticks this season has ensured that only four Championship sides have a better defensive record than Steve Bruce’s team.
Johnstone has been as important as John Terry, Jack Grealish and Albert Adomah to Aston Villa’s promotion hopes. So far, Bruce’s side are third and looking good for a place in the play-offs, nine points clear of seventh placed Bristol City.
The manager has barely wasted an opportunity in recent months to make it clear that he would love to keep the former Preston and Doncaster loanee once his loan expires in the summer but, with Financial Fair Play limiting Villa’s budget, they could not afford to negotiate in January.
And the Manchester Evening News reports that United will increase their asking price for Johnstone should Villa earn promotion.
The Mail claimed in December that United value Johnstone, who hasn’t made his debut for the Old Trafford giants at around £5 million – and that figure could rise again soon if victory in the play-offs is ensured.
As a result, Villa would have to make him the most expensive goalkeeper in their history – and hope the riches of Premier League promotion could finance a deal that would be impossible if they stayed in the Championship.
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