PL club make late swoop for 23-year-old after Aston Villa deal is done - reports
By Harry Sykes
Sunderland have hijacked Aston Villa’s bid to sign goalkeeper Sam Johnstone from Manchester United in the January window, according to reports.
The Mirror claim that David Moyes’ side are ready to rival Villa’s move to sign Johnstone, 23, next month.
It is said that Sunderland manager Moyes wants goalkeeper cover after ruling out first choice Jordan Pickford for two months with knee ligament damage.
The injury to the highly rated Pickford could have major repercussions for Villa’s January transfer plans.
The Midlands giants have made a concerted bid to land Johnstone with negotiations held at a senior level with their United counterparts.
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The Birmingham Mail reported earlier this month that a deal is done for Johnstone to move to Villa, as they “have an agreement to take the 23-year-old on loan when the window opens”.
This suggests that the deal is so advanced Johnstone is in line to complete a move to Villa Park on 1 January, which is the first day that winter deals can be completed.
But manager Steve Bruce could now experience huge frustration in his attempts to reinforce the goalkeeper position in his squad.
The Mirror report that Bruce has pencilled in Johnstone to replace Pierluigi Gollini, who has been axed for the last two matches in favour of his former understudy Mark Bunn.
Gollini had been the established number one at Villa Park but has been criticised for a number of high profile errors this season and could be sold next month.
The 21-year-old, who was once on Man United’s books, has started 20 of the club’s 23 Championship matches, and has been a mainstay of the side that is 10th in the table.
Football Insider verdict:
For the sake of his career, Johnstone needs to go out on loan to Villa, rather than be left waiting in the wings at another top flight club. Aged 23, he is past the point of playing regular Premier League 2 football with the aspiring academy products. The keeper needs competitive first-team football, and Villa can offer that. Gollini has proved he is not up to scratch, and United academy product Johnstone has the pedigree to replace him. He has already had loan spells with Doncaster, Scunthorpe, Preston, Walsall and Yeovil, and has wide experience of the English lower leagues. Villa have come in for him at the ideal time. He should forget being a stop-gap at Sunderland and move to Birmingham to be a number one.
In other Aston Villa transfer news, fans have reacted on Twitter as Bruce seals his first signing this month before the window even opens.