Former Columbus Crew SC star Zack Steffen will start the 2020-2021 season with English Premier League giants Manchester City, according to a Thursday report from ESPN Germany correspondent Stephan Uersfeld.
Steffen spent last season on loan from City with Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Bundesliga, making 17 appearances before his season was cut short due to a patellar tendon injury. It was a difficult season for Dusseldorf, which wound up in the direct relegation spot on the final day of the season.
Now, Steffen appears primed for a roster spot on one of the best teams in the world. Manchester City currently have 69 points, a ridiculous +52 goal differential and sit second in the table, behind only runaway title winners Liverpool. According to Uersfeld, although several Bundesliga teams were interested in acquiring Steffen, he's now qualified for a United Kingdom work permit, which was one factor that led to him being loaned out to Dusseldorf.
Steffen won't be the first-choice starter for City, who have a clear starter at the position in 26-year-old Ederson, but he figures to slide in at No. 2 on the depth chart and could get his first Premier League minutes in the event of an injury or squad rotation.
The hope for USMNT fans will be that being a part of such a high-level club will bode well for Steffen's form on the international level, even if he's not getting starter's minutes. Steffen has emerged as the top option at the position for the US since making his senior team debut in 2018, and figures to feature heavily for the US assuming full health.
FOX soccer analyst and former MLS and USMNT player Stu Holden expressed reservations about the move on social media:
Reported that Zack Steffen will return to Man City to be Ederson’s #2 next season. Feels like wrong move at this stage of career and If true, even further solidifies my thought that Guzan should be #1 for USMNT WCQhttps://t.co/MKYZ4TV9zS— Stu Holden (@stuholden) July 9, 2020
Steffen first broke out during his stint with the Crew from 2016-2019, making 76 appearances and winning the league's Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2018 before he was sold to Manchester City.