By support

25th Mar, 2017 | 10:50am

Aston Villa plan talks over transfer of top-flight ace, Bruce keen on deal

By Matt Farr

Steve Bruce is hoping to extend the stay of current loan star Sam Johnstone at Aston Villa beyond the current season.

Johnstone moved to Villa Park on loan until the end of the season during the January transfer window, as part of a wholesale shakeup of the first-team squad.

There was a vacancy to fill in the goalkeeping position after Bruce had allowed Pierluigi Gollini to join Atalanta on loan, and Bruce made the Manchester United outcast his number one target.

But despite a mixed start to life at Aston Villa, Bruce is keen to extend his stay at the club, and is hoping to open negotiations with Jose Mourinho over a potential longer term deal.

As quoted by the club’s official Twitter account on Saturday morning, Bruce said: “If there’s an opportunity that we can get him to play more next season I would love to do it. I am going to see Mr Mourinho.”

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The 24-year-old stopper has been the undisputed first-choice at Aston Villa since his arrival at the start of the year, despite making several individual errors.

He has kept five clean sheets from his 13 Championship appearances, and conceded 15 goals. But he has been beaten just once in his last six league matches, a run of form that looks to be winning over the fans, as well as Bruce.

Johnstone is not likely to be challenging David De Gea for a first-team role at Old Trafford next season, meaning Mourinho could well give Bruce what he wants.

Football Insider verdict

After a shaky start, Johnstone has started to look the part as Aston Villa’s No.1. However, the club aspires to be challenging among the elite in the Premier League, and the jury remains out over Johnstone’s ability to perform at the top level. His errors will remain a concern for fans as Villa attempt to return to the top flight, with some perhaps in favour of a move for a more reliable man in between the sticks next season. The goalkeeper position is still a problem area for Villa, as neither Gollini or Mark Bunn look the part either, and while Johnstone could be a handy addition when in-form, he may not be the long-term solution to the problem.

In other Aston Villa transfer news, this 28-year-old must quit the club this summer.

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