Photo by Patrick Elmont – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Southampton are now the most likely January destination for Sam Johnstone, with Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United putting the goalkeeper on the back-burner, as reported by the Express and Star. 

Almost as soon as the window closed on September 1, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Saints were drawing up plans for 2022. 

Fraser Forster is out of contract next summer and, after Angus Gunn returned to former employers Norwich City over the summer, there is a lack of real competition for number one Alex McCarthy at St Mary’s.

According to the Athletic, the South Coast club are under no illusions about the problems facing them between the sticks, with a new shot-stopper already the top priority heading into the New Year. 

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While Johnstone has endured a bit of a difficult start to the season – he has made a couple of high-profile errors during West Brom’s largely impressive beginning under Valerien Ismael – the former Manchester United youngster is still a man in high demand. 

Johnstone was valued at £20 million last summer but, given that he is yet to extend a contract which expires in nine months, West Brom may have little choice but to accept a much lower bid this winter.

Is Sam Johnstone heading back to the Premier League?

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Tottenham have expressed an interest, as have a West Ham side who failed with a £10 million bid back in July.

But, according to the Express and Star, Southampton are the only top-flight club actively planning to sign Johnstone as soon as January, with Spurs and the Hammers preferring to wait until he is available for free.

The Sun (10 Sunday, page 63) backs up those claims, pointing out that Southampton would have no qualms about stumping up a sizeable sum for Johnstone in January. 

“He’s one of the best,” former Baggies boss Sam Allardyce said after Johnstone’s Man of the Match performance against Liverpool in December (talkSPORT).

“He’s right up there at the right level and he’d already saved more shots than anybody before yesterday. That one brilliant save was a magnificent save when we needed it.”

Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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