Following their 3-0 victory over Sunderland on Tuesday evening, Aston Villa are knocking on the door for an automatic promotion place, and the Villans faithful in the Transfer Tavern are absolutely delighted.
Aston Villa took another step towards the promotion places with a comfortable victory over rock-bottom Sunderland earlier this week to apply further pressure on 2nd place Cardiff. The prospect of reaching the Premier League next season is firmly at the forefront of the club’s mindset right now, and plenty of supporters are beginning to think about potential summer transfer targets to pursue.
Plenty of players in claret and blue are worthy of individual praise for their performances so far this season, and none less so than their 24-year-old goalkeeper Sam Johnstone who is currently on loan from Manchester United. Johnstone’s performances between the sticks have played an instrumental role in Villa’s success this season, as his record of 15 clean sheets from 35 appearances clearly indicates.
The supporters can see a promotion to the Premier League on the horizon, but if they do indeed make a return to the top-flight this season they may have to recruit a new goalkeeper. According to The Sun, United will demand at least £6.5 million for Johnstone’s services next summer – a price which could prove to be a stumbling block in negotiations between Villa and his host club.
With that to consider, Steve Bruce would be wise to consider alternatives who could be available for a fee significantly lower than Johnstone, such as Newcastle United’s Karl Darlow (valued at £4.5 million by Transfermarkt). Darlow’s future on Tyneside was thrown into doubt recently after he lost his first-team place at the club following the arrival of Martin Dubravka from Sparta Prague.
Darlow was beginning to prove his Premier League quality prior to Benitez’s mid season acquisition, so Villa would be wise to consider making a move for his services if Johnstone proves to be out of their price range. In an ideal world Villa would turn Johnstone’s temporary move into a permanent one, but the club may need to be pragmatic next summer instead turn their attention towards more economically viable options, such as Darlow.