After Roberto Di Matteo signed Italian goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini from Calcio A side Verona, I thought that we had finally found ourselves a good goalkeeper who could be the man between the sticks for many seasons to come.
A few months into our first season in the championship, it became apparent that Gollini was becoming unsettled here in England and wanted a return to his home country of Italy. The sacking of Di Matteo and his coaching staff didn’t help the cause as they would have helped him with the transition from Italy to England.
When Steve Bruce arrived it became apparent that Gollini wasn’t going to be in his plans after he looked at utilising backup goalkeeper Mark Bunn. The young Italian keeper got his wish and returned to his homeland with Serie A side Atalanta. During his loan spell at La Dea, he only made 4 appearances, playing a full 90 minutes on each occasion.
Going by his activity on his Instagram page, Gollini once again looks happy and settled back in Italy despite the lack of game time and there have been rumours that Atalanta will look to make the move permanent should both clubs come to an agreement.
Sam Johnstone arrived on loan from Manchester United in January and despite a shaky start, he settled well at Villa Park. So much so that Bruce would like the 24-year-old goalkeeper to return on another loan deal.
Johnstone’s first game in goal for Villa was a very difficult one, away at Tottenham in the cup. Despite the poor result, Johnstone was arguably the best Villa player on the field that day. He impressed a lot of Villa fans and looked to be a solid young goalkeeper.
In a few games that followed, his performances started to take a turn for the worst. He made a howler against Nottingham Forest, spilling the ball straight to Britt Asombalonga and gifting the opposition a goal.
He didn’t look confident at commanding his box when balls were crossed into his area and he seemed to prefer to punch the ball to safety instead of a simple catch. This infuriated certain sections of the Villa faithful as they felt that it denied us the opportunity to break away on the counter attack and instead put us under more pressure.
As the season progressed he began to settle and get the fans on side. His shot stopping was second to none but I would expect that from most half decent goalkeepers. The things that infuriated fans before were being worked on and he really started to impress.
Johnstone finished the season with 8 clean sheets and many plaudits.
Should we get him back?
I would love to see Johnstone return to Villa Park this summer. It appears it will only be a loan deal but I would personally love to see it be a permanent one. We need a number 1 that we can grow and build the team around and a loan deal would only be a temporary fix.
Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho has reportedly stated he would be happy to let Johnstone leave for around £5million which has alerted other clubs. I feel it would be a decent price for a goalkeeper who has the best years ahead of him.