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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 April 2019

Zack Steffen: Who is Manchester City's new goalkeeper?

The American will arrive from Major League Soccer's Columbus Crew next July

Columbus Crew goalkeeper Zack Steffen makes a save against Toronto FC. Steffen has signed for Manchester City. The Canadian Press via AP
Columbus Crew goalkeeper Zack Steffen makes a save against Toronto FC. Steffen has signed for Manchester City. The Canadian Press via AP

What are the key details of the transfer?

Zack Steffen has been signed by Manchester City for an undisclosed fee, but Columbus Crew confirmed it is the largest in the club's history and "most ever received by a Major League Soccer club for a goalkeeper in the league's 23-year history".

The 23-year-old American will remain with the Crew for the first part of the MLS season and then join up with City in July. He has signed a four-year contract.

City described him as "one of the outstanding talents in America".

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Read more:

Manchester City agree 'historic' deal to sign United States goalkeeper Zack Steffen

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What is Steffen's background?

Born in Pennsylvania, he started his footballing career at the University of Maryland before moving to German side Freiburg in December 2014.

He failed to make a first-team appearance but did play 14 matches with Freiburg's second team in Germany's fourth division, the Regionalliga, before returning to the US with Columbus Crew in July 2016. A loan spell immediately followed to the Pittsburgh Riverhounds in America's second tier.

It was in 2017 that his career really started to take off as he became first choice at the Crew, playing 34 league games and winning the club's Defender of the Year award.

He made 29 appearances in his second season and set a new club record by not conceding a goal for 525 minutes. Steffen was named MLS Player of the Month for May and played in the 2018 MLS All-Star Game against Juventus.

Columbus Crew finished fifth in the Eastern Conference before losing to New York Red Bulls in the semi-finals.

Steffen made his debut for the US national team in January against Bosnia-Hezegovina and has six caps to date.

Has he commented on the move?

Yes. He gave the usual appreciation message.

“Any success that I have had as a goalkeeper in MLS with Crew SC is a testament to those around me who have pushed me – teammates, coaches, staff, family, friends and supporters. Today’s announcement regarding next summer is a special moment for me and I look forward to finishing my time with this Club on a strong note. I am eager to continue to put in the work to improve and be the best teammate I can.”

A more interesting revelation came a couple of weeks ago from his mother who described her son's nerves when he was younger, and how he had to be persuaded to get out of the car before matches amid floods of tears. Watch the video below.

Do Manchester City need a new goalkeeper?

Well, Ederson is firmly rooted as Pep Guardiola's No 1, and Steffen shouldn't expect to displace the Brazilian right away.

He will likely be the Ederson's understudy and perhaps get some game time in domestic cup matches.

Claudio Bravo, City's second-choice goalkeeper, has been ruled out for much of the season with an Achilles injury. The Chilean hardly covered himself in glory during Guardiola's first season in charge anyway.

Arijanet Muric, a 20-year-old Kosovan, had spent the early part of the 2018/19 season on loan at NAC Breda in the Netherlands but returned to the Etihad Stadium to cover for Bravo and has featured in two League Cup fixtures, against Fulham and Oxford United, and has been on the bench as back-up in the Premier League and Uefa Champions League. He could be loaned out again next season when Steffen arrives.

What did Columbus Crew say?

The club's interim general manager, Pat Onstad, said it was a good move for all parties involved.

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of two and a half years of development and success for Zack. As someone who worked closely with Zack throughout, on behalf of the club, I would like to say that we couldn’t be happier for him. Manchester City Football Club is one of the top clubs in the world and we are pleased to finalise this agreement that benefits the player and both clubs.

"We continue to believe that players that come to Crew SC have an opportunity to develop and become great players either here in MLS or abroad."

The Premier League has seen plenty of American goalkeepers

Absolutely, and some fine keepers as well. Brad Friedel also came from Columbus Crew, first joining Liverpool before impressive spells at Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa before finishing his career at Tottenham Hotspur.

Tim Howard came to global prominence when he was signed by Manchester United in 2003 before spending a decade at Everton, while Brad Guzan returned to the US last year after nearly a decade in England with Aston Villa and Middlesbrough.

And a name for the football anoraks - who remembers Marcus Hahnemann? Reading fans certainly will after 276 appearances for the Royals between 2001 and 2009. He returned to the Seattle Sounders in the US in 2012.

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Updated: December 12, 2018 11:48 AM

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