West Bromwich Albion could lose Sam Johnstone at the end of the season as he has been linked with two Premier League clubs and will be out of contract in the summer of 2022, meaning Albion may have to cash in soon rather than risk losing him for nothing next year.
Johnstone has been a standout performer at West Brom and proven himself a reliable Premier League goalkeeper, so he may want to continue plying his trade in the top flight even if Albion are relegated. However, Steve Madeley of The Athletic believes that the Baggies have options in his stead.
He claimed that Alex Palmer, who is impressing while on loan at Lincoln City from Albion, could be promoted to the first team next season and allowed to compete with David Button for a starting place. Madeley hinted that Johnstone is only likely to stay if West Brom fend off relegation, but that seems unlikely given their 12-point deficit to 17th. He told The Athletic:
Until we know who the head coach is next season, it is hard to be sure, but if Johnstone does move on — and with only a year remaining on his contract it would make sense to make money on him while they can — then promoting Palmer would be the obvious move.
It’s been clear for a while that Albion have a career plan for Palmer. He’s done everything that’s been asked of him in League Two and League One and at 24 he is reaching an age where Albion will want a return on the time they’ve invested in him.
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Palmer wouldn’t be a bad replacement for the current Albion number one. The 24-year-old has conceded just 37 goals and kept 15 clean sheets in 36 games for Lincoln, who are flying high in League One (Transfermarkt).
He might be ready for the step-up to the Championship – a division in which West Brom could soon find themselves. If Johnstone flies the coop, don’t be surprised if the Baggies put their faith in Palmer.