Middlesbrough meets German competition for Man City keeper Zack Steffen

Steffen has been one of the stars of the Boro campaign, having been loaned out last July and starting all but one of the club’s games as the latter narrowly missed out on promotion.

The USA international was ever-present under Michael Carrick but his loan spell ended when Boro lost to Coventry City in the play-off semifinals last week.

He is under contract at Manchester City until the summer of 2025, having initially joined the recently crowned Premier League champions in 2019 for £7million from US club Columbus Crew.

However, he does not appear to have a long-term future at the Etihad Stadium as City manager Pep Guardiola is happy with his current line-up of Ederson, who is firmly established as the club’s top goalkeeper, and Germany’s Stefan Ortega. who started in Sunday’s 1-0 win over Chelsea.

Ideally, Guardiola would prefer to recruit a third-choice young goalkeeper who could be primed as a long-term project, rather than resorting to 28-year-old Steffen as his number three.

That’s why City will be listening to offers this summer, with Steffen having indicated he has nonetheless expressed a desire to continue given the likely lack of opportunities at his current permanent employers.

“I don’t think I’ll be going back (to City),” Steffen said when asked about his future during his international assignment in the United States earlier this year. “No, I want to play. Although I had a great time at City and love these guys and obviously it’s a great club, I don’t really have any plans to return.”

Boro would like to sign Steffen permanently, with Carrick a self-confessed admirer of the American. Steffen’s ease of possession suits the style of play that the Boro boss encourages his side, whilst he has also developed a reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in the Championship during his loan spell at Teesside.

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However, the consensus within Boro’s recruiting team is that it will be extremely difficult to secure a deal for Steffen this summer. Manchester City are expected to ask for a transfer fee of around £10million, while Steffen’s contract at Etihad is said to be worth more than £60,000 a week, well above Boro’s current salary cap.

To complicate matters further, German media claim Steffen is the subject of strong interest from at least two clubs in the Bundesliga who could potentially outbid Boro in both transfer fees and salaries.

While Steffen was born in the USA and started his career in the American college system, he has strong ties to Germany, having arrived in Freiburg in 2015 at the age of just 19.

He played in Freiburg’s second team for a season before returning to the United States, but returned to Germany as a Manchester City player in 2019/20 to spend the season on loan at Fortuna Düsseldorf.

Unless Boro can negotiate a deal for Steffen, they will have to look elsewhere for a new first-choice goalkeeper, with Carrick apparently unwilling to promote Liam Roberts.

Roberts joined Boro from Northampton Town last summer and started four league games under former coach Chris Wilder last autumn. However, he was always just an unused substitute under Carrick and the current head coach even chose Steffen for Boros FA Cup third round game against Brighton rather than give Roberts a chance in the first team.

https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/sport/23538446.middlesbrough-face-german-competition-man-city-keeper-zack-steffen/?ref=rss Middlesbrough meets German competition for Man City keeper Zack Steffen

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