Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce will enquire over signing Manchester United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone on a permanent basis in the January transfer window, with the 24-year-old having impressed during his second loan spell at Villa Park. The one-time England youth international returned to the Championship club on a season-long loan in the summer, after spending the second half of last term with the Villans.
Johnstone kept eight clean sheets last season and has already added five to that tally in the opening 11 league games of this campaign. The latest shut-out came as Villa claimed their fourth win in a row against Bolton Wanderers to climb into seventh in the table following a three-game winless run at the start of the campaign.
Johnstone has been loaned out to seven different clubs in six years at Old Trafford – during which time he has never played for Jose Mourinho's side. Bruce is eager to capitalise on his impressive form and wants to acquire Johnstone on a permanent basis mid-way through his loan agreement.
"It would be great to keep him here for the next few years as Villa's number one," Steve Bruce said, according to the Metro, after the 1-0 weekend win. "I will need to ask the question. The ideal move for us would be to buy him in January. You've seen it, a young goalkeeper coming in and getting better with every game he plays. The difference in him since he's started in January to now is light years. He's confident, playing every week and he's playing real football."
On 17 occasions Johnstone has been named in the United matchday squad since signing professional terms with the club, but a first-team debut has not yet been forthcoming. His outings have been restricted to the Under-23 side with the presence of David de Gea, Sergio Romero and Joel Pereira blocking his passage to the senior ranks.
Spells at Oldham Athletic, Scunthorpe United, Walsall, Yeovil Town, Doncaster Rovers and Preston North End have come to little and it was not until he landed at Villa last season that he enjoyed regular appearances. Villa struggled in their first season back in the Championship but are expected to mount a challenge for promotion this term, with Johnstone a key figure.
Just two months into the campaign, Mourinho is yet to shed any light on United's plans for the January transfer window. Their activity is likely to focus on outgoings rather than incomings, having made four high profile signings during the summer. Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic, Victor Lindelof and Zlatan Ibrahimovic arrived amid much fanfare in the off-season, with Mourinho having stated he is happy with his squad.