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Who is Stoke City transfer target Viktor Johansson? The beer-buying toast of Rotherham



The man who looks likely to become Stoke City’s first summer arrival has a Premier League pedigree of sorts after spending time at both Aston Villa and Leicester City on his career journey..

Of sorts because Viktor Johansson never played any first team games at Villa Park or the King Power Stadium, and ultimately made a name for himself at the far less glamorous environs of the New York Stadium with Rotherham United.

But it is there that he has developed a reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in the Championship, and it seems Stoke have had to trigger a release clause in his Millers contract, thought to be in the region of £1m, to lure him away from South Yorkshire.

Media reports suggest that release clause came into effect as soon as Rotherham were relegated last season, and no doubt the Stoke hierarchy will be hoping Johansson can finally fulfil his Premier League ambitions by helping get the Potters back into the top-flight.

The 25-year-old initially emerged at the Hammarby club in Stockholm where he impressed sufficiently to attract the attention of Villa, joining their academy in 2015 and signing professional forms in 2018.

After a brief loan at non-league Alfreton Town, he then joined the Foxes’ development squad, but again was limited to reserve team games and EFL Trophy matches, but did enough to catch the eye of then Rotherham boss Paul Warne, now manager of promoted Derby County.

Rotherham signed Johansson ahead of their 2020/21 campaign, and after establishing himself as the Millers’ regular number one from the November of that season, quickly became a cult hero for fans.

As the Rotherham United website explains: “Johansson turned in a series of accomplished and brave displays – two of which saw him sustain head injuries for his troubles – which endeared him to the Millers fans.

“Viktor was part of a goalkeeping department which kept a club-record tally of 27 clean sheets throughout the 2021/22 campaign, which ultimately saw the Millers claim automatic promotion to the Sky Bet Championship and win the Papa Johns Trophy.

“He enjoyed arguably his best campaign to date during the 2022/23 season, in which he kept a remarkable 13 league clean sheets, which saw him claim the Players’ Player and Player of the Season accolades.”

Along the way, there has been international recognition too, with Johansson representing his country at under-17s, under-19s and under-21 level before claiming his first full cap for Sweden as a half-time substitute against Moldova in October 2023.

What looks like being Johansson’s final season as a Rotherham player ended in disappointment when the Millers were relegated back to League One, but there was a significant consolation for fans when the 6ft1 shot-stopper bought 600 pints of beer as a thank-you before the final game of the season.

He still has a year left on the deal he signed in January 2023, and new Rotherham boss Steve Evans had hoped to hold on to his impressive number one. That now seems unlikely, but the Scotsman remains a huge fan.

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