Tottenham Hotspur will have Hugo Lloris around for another two seasons, but are staring straight ahead towards a Hugo-free future. However, according to multiple sources including Alasdair Gold, Spurs might be looking to address that issue in this summer’s transfer window... for free.
Gold writes in a column at football.london today that Spurs are currently in negotiations to sign 29-year old England international and current West Brom keeper Sam Johnstone on a pre-contract as soon as he’s available to do so. Johnstone’s contract at West Brom expires at the end of this season, and he’s expressed a willingness to come and back up Hugo with an eye towards eventually taking his spot between the sticks.
Johnstone isn’t exactly a spring chicken, but he’s five years younger than Hugo, was Jordan Pickford’s primary backup at last summer’s Euros, and has pretty excellent PSxG-GA numbers. He’s a solid shot stopper, commands his area well, and most importantly is homegrown.
Pierluigi Gollini, signed on loan from Atalanta, was supposed to be the answer to the question of who might succeed Hugo long term, but it now seems pretty probable that the Italian is going to return to Atalanta unsigned; his loan contract stipulated a mandatory purchase if he reached 20 appearances — he has ten to date and even if Hugo goes down injured for the rest of the season he won’t meet that threshold. Spurs reportedly have an option to extend Gollini’s contract an additional year, but I can’t see them doing that either when they potentially have Johnstone waiting in the wings for free.
Quite frankly, this makes a ton of sense. Johnstone wouldn’t be a regular Premier League starter, but he’ll get plenty of games in the cups and possibly in Europe if Spurs finish outside of top four. He’s also good enough that I’d feel pretty comfortable with him in goal if Hugo picked up an injury. When Hugo finally hangs up his gloves, Johnstone could pretty easily step in, though he obviously wouldn’t be a long term #1. Signing Johnstone would mean Spurs would go into next season with Johnstone as the #2, and Spurs academy grad Brandon Austin as the third keeper.
The tea leaves are suggesting that Spurs are favorites, but West Ham and Newcastle are also showing interest in Johnstone. It may come down to what the player wants to do. League rules state that a player can’t enter into negotiations with another Premier League club until the final month of their contract, which means we might not find out until next month. Still, this would be a pretty astute pickup for Tottenham, improving depth at an important position without spending too much on the outlay. Sounds good to me!