Manchester United star linked with £4m move to loanee’s rival club but manager denies it

Sam Johnstone

Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce has denied the claims that Manchester United’s on-loan goalkeeper Sam Johnstone is set to leave the Villans and join their West-Midlands rivals West Brom in January.

According to a report from the Daily Mail, on the last day of the previous year, Alan Pardew’s West Brom had made enquiries over a potential transfer and the report claims that United would sell the stopper to Baggies in January for around £4million.

Furthermore, United officials were believed to have an option of terminating Johnstone’s loan tenure but Villa boss Steve Bruce has brushed off the claims, stating he had a word with Mourinho only a couple of days back and there was no mention about it.

“We haven’t heard that at all,” Bruce told BBC WM when quizzed about media speculation that Johnstone is about to move to West Brom.

“I spoke to Jose Mourinho two days ago and he never mentioned it.

“He not our player, of course, but we want him to stay. He’s very, very happy here. Let’s hope that’s the end of it.”

Johnstone, who has played every minute for Villa this term, has also reportedly caught the attention of Roy Hodgson’s Crystal Palace and David Moyes’ West Ham United. Conceding 24 times in 26 games for the Villans this term, Johnstone has established himself as a first-team regular. So there isn’t any point of sanctioning a sale to elsewhere where he’d have to battle it out for a first-team spot.

At Hawthorns, the 24-year-old stopper will have the former Manchester United man Ben Foster to fight with, while at Palace, Wayne Hennessey and Julián Speroni are doing a decent job. Furthermore, at West Ham, the competition is tougher, as the Hammers have Joe Hart (on loan from Manchester City) and Adrian.

As things stand for Manchester United, they do not really need more stoppers as David de Gea is in the form of his life. His form has been so intense that even Sergio Romero has found it hard to dislodge the Spaniard from the first-team. And to take care of the rest of the rest of the matters, a certain 21-year-old Joel Pereira is there as well.

Things will actually get complicated the day Johnstone returns from his loan tenure.