Columbus, Ohio (November 26, 2018) — Columbus Crew SC are staying put. The same can’t be said about Zack Steffen.
The 23-year-old goalkeeper is close to a move to English Premier League titans Manchester City, according to a report from Paul Tenorio of The Athletic. It comes a few days after a report from The Sun in the U.K. linked him to the club. Tenorio is reporting that the transfer fee is in the vicinity of $7-10 million.
Breaking for @TheAthleticSCCR: Columbus Crew and MLS finalizing a transfer to send Zack Steffen to Manchester City for between $7 and $10 million, per multiple sources. https://t.co/vZRxHYS8ko pic.twitter.com/HATSYFVxG5
— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) November 26, 2018
Report: Manchester City Set to Complete Move for Zack Steffen
The move confirms what seemed like an inevitability ever since the 2018 summer transfer window. It was then that Steffen came onto the radar of Bristol City in England’s second tier. The club put in a $3.9 million bid for Steffen which Crew SC rejected. That certainly looks like a prudent move given Man City’s asking price could be over twice that. The first opportunity for them to complete the transfer will come on January 1, 2019, when the next transfer window opens.
Steffen attracted the interest of famed City manager Pep Guardiola as a result of depth issues they’re currently dealing with at goalkeeper. The club’s regular starter, Claudio Bravo, suffered a ruptured Achilles which subsequently ended his season. Steffen will likely serve as a backup to Ederson who’s assumed the starter role.
The next step in consummating this move is Steffen securing a work permit. That could prove a challenge, as U.K. work permit rules generally require a foreign player to have played in at least 75 percent of his team’s national team games over the past two years. Steffen only began receiving regular appearances in 2018. It means he’ll have to apply for a “special talent exemption.”
Steffen arrived at Crew SC ahead of the 2017 season and immediately assumed the starting role. The next two seasons saw him eventually cement his status as the go-to keeper for the USMNT. Among his exploits was helping Columbus win penalty shootouts in the MLS knockout round twice, setting a new franchise record in consecutive minutes without conceding a goal, and making seven saves in a 1-1 draw with eventual 2018 World Cup winners France.
Prior to his time in Columbus, Steffen spent time with Bundesliga club Freiburg after a standout collegiate career at Maryland.