The rumours are growing stronger by the day that Manchester United shot-stopper Sam Johnstone is Villa Park bound on a loan deal until the end of the season. Is there any need for the twenty-three-year-old?
If Johnstone does make the move to the Villans he will bring a wealth of experience in the football league and another pair of safe hands to battle for the number one spot under Steve Bruce.
Initially, I backed the idea of bringing in Johnstone, with Pierluigi Gollini not setting the world alight so far in a claret and blue shirt and Mark Bunn hardly being the most inspiring or reassuring back-up.
Then it got me thinking. Johnstone is still young. Like Gollini, with only two years between the pair. One goalkeeper has failed to push even into the top two at Old Trafford whilst one has plied his trade in the Serie A and been touted as a replacement for Gianluigi Buffon at Juventus.
Which sounds the better option now?
I am all for enhancing our squad and I do believe that is exactly what Johnstone will do. However, if his arrival comes at the expense of our own young keeper then it is not the way forward.
Any competition is good competition but what will that do to Gollini’s confidence?
The Italian has cost Aston Villa points this season but I can’t remember many errors of note since Steve Bruce took over. Bunn is an experienced man, which is what Bruce has said in previous press conferences that he wants currently, but Johnstone offers less experience than Bunn.
If Bruce were to go for someone like Alan McGregor this month to strengthen our goalkeeping department, I would understand it. It seems we’re potentially bringing in another young goalkeeper, albeit one who is highly rated by Manchester United and Jose Mourinho.
We haven’t had a steady and consistent number one since the days of Brad Friedel. The club has tried countless times to find a new goalkeeper who is capable of great things but we are yet to see him between our sticks. With Gollini, there is a goalkeeper who is an excellent shot-stopper but, as with many young goalkeepers, he tends to parry shots instead of looking to catch them or push them around the post.
Manchester United had teething problems with David De Gea in his early seasons in England but he soon bedded down and learned from his mistakes. How can we expect Gollini to do so if we are looking to replace him after a matter of months at the club? It sets the wrong precedent for the development of the club.
At this moment in time, Mark Bunn deserves his starting role but Pierluigi Gollini doesn’t deserve to be dropped past being second keeper. There is no denying that Gollini has the ability to shine.
I will support any decision Bruce makes in January but I am worried for the future of Pierluigi Gollini if we’re looking to replace him with Sam Johnstone. Perhaps Bruce believes it is too much of a risk to be playing Gollini over Bunn.
Both are prone to an error but I’d much rather see Gollini make an error and learn from it than have him fade away.
We will see what the future holds. Gollini could well leave during this transfer window. In that case, I would be disappointed but I have every faith that Johnstone would be a good option.
Going further into the future, I hope Jed Steer recovers well from his season-ending injury and can push on to challenge to be our number one at Villa Park come summer 2017.
We could end up signing Sam Johnstone on a loan deal and making it a permanent one in the summer.