COMMENT By Will Butcher
Sam Johnstone’s eye-catching debut in Aston Villa’s 2-0 FA Cup loss to Tottenham will have delighted fans, but it could spell the end for Pierliugi Gollini.
The Championship giants have been without a reliable goalkeeper since their relegation, as Gollini has made a number of high-profile mistakes while Mark Bunn has failed to provide adequate cover when called upon with a mistake against Leeds.
Signing on loan from Manchester United, Johnstone sparkled against Tottenham with a number of good saves to deny Heung-Min Son, Harry Winks and Vincent Janssen.
Now with three first-team goalkeepers at Villa Park, Gollini’s future is in doubt. The 21-year-old is unlikely to want to warm the bench following his £4.3million move from Serie A outfit Hellas Verona.
Italian stopper Gollini, who also came through the ranks at Manchester United like Johnstone, has stuttered at Villa with errors against Leeds and Sheffield Wednesday, keeping just five clean sheets in 20 appearances.
With Johnstone arguably Villa’s best player against Spurs during the 2-0 loss, Gollini could now be offloaded – potentially on loan to start with as it’s unlikely Villa will be able to recoup the money they paid for him after his run of poor form.
Either way, it seems unlikely that Gollini has a long-term future at Villa and it could be time to put in motion a plan to move him on.
At just 23, Johnstone has his best years ahead of him and would be a major coup for Bruce’s promotion-chasing side if he was signed permanently in the future.
That seems unlikely at the moment but if Aston Villa do manage to win promotion this season there’s a chance.
One thing is certain, while the signing of Johnstone has provided Aston Villa with a short-term solution between the sticks, Bruce will definitely be looking for a long-term answer come the summer.
In other Aston Villa news, Ian Taylor believes this player made all the difference during the defeat to Mauricio Pochettino’ side.