Chelsea are reportedly interested in Sam Johnstone as they start looking into viable replacements for wantaway goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
According to Simon Phillips, Chelsea are looking at Sam Johnstone to replace Kepa Arrizabalaga in the summer, with the Spaniard expected to leave the club for first-team opportunities. The West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper will be available on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season.
Kepa Arrizabalaga grabbed headlines back in 2018 when Chelsea decided to pay a world-record fee for a goalkeeper. The former Athletic Club stopper cost the Blues £72 million, which eclipsed Liverpool’s decision to splash big on Alisson Becker a few weeks earlier.
He had a positive impact in his first season at the club, although a late bust-up with then-manager Maurizio Sarri began his downfall. The Spanish goalkeeper’s form dipped, and he was then dropped by Frank Lampard before he become a firm second choice under Thomas Tuchel.
The arrival and subsequent good performances from Edouard Mendy seemed like the final nail in the coffin for Arrizabalaga and his Chelsea career. The Blues are open to selling him in the summer and taking a significant loss over their original investment.
Arrizabalaga has significant interest from Italy, although clubs from the Premier League and Spain could also make approaches in the summer. Chelsea’s asking price would be the big question, considering the ‘keeper has performed quite well this season when he started in Mendy’s absence in January.
While he was partly responsible for Chelsea’s loss in the Carabao Cup final to Liverpool, his impressive performances in January has somewhat restored his status as one of the top stoppers in the Premier League, which could help Chelsea recoup a significant fee.
The Blues are already looking for a replacement and have eyes on Sam Johnstone. The West Bromwich Albion goalkeeper will be a free agent in the summer and remains keen on returning to the Premier League. At 28, he has ambitions to have a sustained career in the top flight, although he will firmly be the no.2 behind Mendy at Chelsea.
In the summer, Johnstone was on the transfer shortlist of several clubs, including Arsenal. It is unclear whether he chose to continue with the Baggies or if the club blocked any potential move for the English international. West Ham United and Tottenham remain interested, while his former club Manchester United have also expressed the desire to bring back the English custodian.
Will he be satisfied playing in cup ties and probably an odd game in the Champions League or Premier League throughout the season? Maybe not, and this could be the determining factor in Johnstone signing for Chelsea in the summer. However, a move to Stamford Bridge could still materialise depending on the finances on offer and the club’s promises.
Johnstone still has a considerable amount of time at the top level, and he could be a great addition to any of the current Premier League sides outside of the top-six. Answers over his next destination will be clearer when the summer window arrives, although a move to Chelsea remains unlikely.