UPDATE (Thursday, 4:38 pm ET): ESPN's Jeff Carlisle reported that Crew SC turned down the bid on Thursday afternoon. MLSsocer.com can confirm this report.
Multiple sources telling me that #Crew96 has turned down Bristol City's $3.9 million offer for goalkeeper Zack Steffen.— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) July 19, 2018
Columbus head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter wouldn't confirm to MLSsoccer.com that Crew SC received a bid from Bristol City for Steffen, but he did acknowledge that "multiple clubs" have expressed interest in the 23-year-old this summer.
"Every transfer window we've had we’ve been getting calls about some of our players, so this is pretty much normal," Berhalter said over the phone on Wednesday afternoon. "What I’d say is that, like always, we want to be a place where we get players and we develop them and we help them advance in their careers, wherever that may be. Whether that’s staying with us and improving and becoming a great player within this league or if it happens to be moving abroad, we are open to the idea of players coming here and developing and getting better and this is pretty much in line with that."
Steffen signed with Columbus in July 2016 following two years with German club SC Freiburg and became the full-time starter after Crew SC parted ways with Steve Clark that winter. One of the top young goalkeepers in MLS, he’s recorded 16 shutouts in 50 career regular season appearances for Crew SC and helped the club to a berth in the 2017 Eastern Conference Championship with some standout performances in the playoffs last fall.
The US international was named MLS Player of the Month for a standout May in which he didn’t allow a single goal in five matches as Columbus went 3-0-2. He has seven clean sheets in 16 league games this season.
The starting goalkeeper for the US at the 2015 Under-20 World Cup, Steffen received his first USMNT call-up for a May 2016 friendly against Puerto Rico. He made his senior international debut in a scoreless draw against Bosnia and Herzegovina in January and started the US’ last match, a 1-1 draw at France on June 9.
Though he’s been called to every USMNT camp in 2018 and appears to be one of the leading contenders to be the future No. 1, Steffen doesn’t have enough USMNT experience to automatically qualify for an English work permit should the transfer go through. He'd likely need to go through an appeals panel to receive authorization to play in England.
Bristol City finished 11th in the 24-team Championship in the 2017-18 season. Goalkeeper Frank Fielding, 30, started 43 of their 48 league games last season, but he suffered an injury in a preseason friendly over the weekend that, according to a report, accelerated Bristol’s ongoing search for a new goalkeeper. Bristol will begin the 2018-19 campaign on Aug. 4 against Nottingham Forest.