The centre-back is approaching the final six months of his deal at Easter Road, but Johnson has admitted defeat in their attempts to prolong his stay following drawn out negotiations between both parties. Johnson also believes the club are now paying the cost for failing to act sooner regarding Porteous’ deal, with the 23-year-old enhancing his profile with an outstanding international debut in September’s goalless UEFA Nations League draw in Ukraine.
Speaking after Saturday’s 2-0 friendly defeat to Middlesbrough at Easter Road, Johnson said: “The fact is and I’m probably better off just coming out with it, he ain’t signing a new contract. At the end of the day, we’ve offered a fantastic contract, a really big one for the football club and in my eyes a contract that should have been offered two-and-a-half years earlier for a player of that quality.
“I’ve got no issue with Ryan at all. He turned down the best contact we could offer and therefore is seeking pastures new. I think potentially a January sale would be the best idea if we realise the fee, because at that point you can reinvest the money back into the club. That does not necessarily mean a replacement for Ryan Porteous, that could be giving a young player more on their contract. We can’t do anymore in terms of what we’ve done, the conversations have been good but he’s got a high profile and he is a young player on a free.”
Former Sunderland, Bristol City and Barnsley boss Johnson believes the English Championship is Porteous’ likely destination. He added: “If I was a Championship manager, and I have been in the past, he is the exact type of player I would be looking at. I know the wages the clubs I was at paid in the Championship and it’s high. Put into the mix you have an agent that probably hasn’t had an income source from the likes of Ryan in the past and is seeing an opportunity to help Ryan and get him to where he believes he should be. This is unfortunately the nature of the beast.”