Manchester United have confirmed that goalkeeper Sam Johnstone has left the club to join Championship side West Browmich Albion. The move, for a fee believed to be £6.5m was widely expected to be completed given that Johnstone has never broken into the first team at Old Trafford, and has spent the entirety of his senior career on loan to various clubs. The Preston-born shotstopper has taken in spells at Oldham Athletic, Scunthorpe United, Walsall, Yeovil Town, Doncaster Rovers and was most recently on loan with United defender Axel Tuanzebe at Aston Villa, in a season that ended in the Midlands side losing to Fulham at Wembley in May.
Johnstone said of the move to the Baggies’ official site: “I’m happy to be here. I’ve spoken to a lot of people about the club and heard nothing but good things. It’s good to get through the door. I’ve played Championship games and won a promotion from League One with Preston but always seemed to end back at Manchester United or going somewhere else. Now it’s time to settle down and take my game up to the next level which I believe I can do here.”
It’s always a shame to see a youth prospect leave United having failed to break into the first team, but Johnstone’s path to becoming a regular starting was next-to impossible given the players that were ahead of him. David de Gea is indisputably the club’s number one, and fully deserves his status having been the club’s star performer during the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era. Sergio Romero has proved an able deputy in the last three seasons, having been brought to the club by Louis van Gaal in 2015. The Argentine was crucial to the club’s Europa League success in 2017, and behind him sits Joel Pereira, who is highly rated by the club’s management team and is likely to go out on loan to gain experience this coming season. As such, it’s no surprise to see Johnstone leave the club permanently, and it’ll be no surprise to see him flourish, too.