Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but in a club announcement Tuesday, Crew SC said the deal was “the largest in club history and most ever received by an MLS club for a goalkeeper.”
Columbus interim general manager Pat Onstad – also the club’s assistant coach who has been working with Steffen and the rest of Crew SC's goalkeepers – said former head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter did most of the work on the deal, but said both Precourt Sports Ventures and the club's potential new ownership group had worked on completing the process.
Steffen said he was happy to wait until the summer to join City, and said he had known about the potential timing of the deal for a few months.
Onstad said that timing, rather than an immediate move in January, worked best for all parties.
“It was beneficial, at this stage, for both clubs,” he said. “I think for [Zack] and his comfort zone, at this stage, to wrap his head around it and get six more months with us is a good opportunity for him. Now he knows where he’s going, where he’s ending up. He can strive for that and we can have something to shoot for in the next six months.
“I think it fits well for our team and our scouts to make sure we have a target. We know when we’re trying to get [them] into the squad. For Man City, I can’t speak for them directly, but my assumption is that summer is probably an easier time for them to slide Zack in there. But I think the most important thing is that Zack was comfortable with it for both parties.”
That delay also gives Steffen time to determine whether he will be able to get a work permit to play in England right away, a factor that’s far from a foregone conclusion.
“That’s the tough part – that’s what we’re trying to figure out right now,” Steffen said. “There have been discussions on certain plans, but nothing is really finalized right now. But we are looking into the whole work permit.”
After returning to the States from a stint with Freiburg in Germany, Steffen has made it clear that he’d like to return to Europe someday.
With this move, he said he’s found the right fit on and off the field.
“Their style of play is just like Columbus – it’s just like what Gregg and Pat have been drilling in my head for the past two and a half years. It’s fun that way,” Steffen said. “Man City is also a very family-based organization. They’re great people and they work hard, and it’s a great town. … I could tell Man City seemed like a good fit, and when I went over there, they were great and took very good care of me.”