If you had been told at the beginning of January that Manchester City’s biggest transfer window signing would be a 22 year old Englishman from the Championship you would have been forgiven for laughing out loud, but that’s exactly what happened.
The acquisition of the flying winger raised eyebrows with many predicting nothing more than bench warming duties at City, but Johnson has made quite an impression in the first team so far.
The fee was rumoured to be in the region of £8.5 million as City were forced to spend big to fend off rumoured interest from Manchester United and Chelsea.
He made his debut as a substitute for Stephen Ireland in the game against Hull City at the beginning of February and picked up the Man of the Match award after his first start against Bolton Wanderers just three days later.
Born in Sunderland, Johnson opened his scoring account for City with a stunning late equaliser against his hometown club at the weekend having come off the bench with less than twenty minutes remaining.
“If there was one place I probably wouldn’t have wanted to score my first goal, it would probably have been here,” Johnson told the Daily Mail.
“But I am just thankful I have finally got off the mark because I am a Manchester City player now.”
Johnson started out as a schoolboy with Middlesbrough and made his debut in 2005 against Sporting Lisbon in a Uefa Cup tie aged just 17, but had to wait six months to get a run in the Premiership.
Loan spells at Leeds United and Watford followed before he returned to the Riverside.
He found it difficult to dislodge England international Stewart Downing from the left wing position and was often used on the right hand side to great effect.
When Downing left to join Aston Villa last summer, Johnson became an integral part of the Boro team and his performances had top flight clubs watching with interest.
Capped 19 times at under 21 international level, he is seen as one of the next generation of up and coming England internationals.
With the World Cup fast approaching there is very little chance of Johnson making Fabio Capello’s final 23-man squad, though he was in the 30-man party for the recent friendly with Egypt.
He is optimistic about his chances of being on the plane to South Africa however, and admits the thought of playing at a World Cup contributed ot his January move.
“It wasn’t a big factor but when I signed there were all sorts of little things in my head and I knew that playing in the Championship I wasn’t going to be seen as much,” he told The Times.
“I needed to be playing on television most weeks and get talked about. It would be unbelievable to go to South Africa but I’ve got to concentrate on trying to play as well as I did on my [City] debut.
“If I do, hopefully I’ll have a sniff of a call-up.”