Manchester City announced that Zack Steffen will spend the entirety of the 2019-2020 with Fortuna Düsseldorf in the Bundesliga. The 24-year-old goalkeeper recently joined the reigning Premier League champions “for a fee between £7 million and £10 million.” According to the Massive Report, it is a necessary move because he “is unable to get a work permit in the United Kingdom, largely due to the lack of international caps.”
“Zack Steffen is a modern goalkeeper who brings everything,” Fortuna board member Lutz Pfannenstiel told the club’s official website. “He is technically very well educated, strong in one-on-one situations, and is an excellent footballer. [It’s] not without reason that Manchester City decided to sign [him] on a long-term basis.”
Steffen greeted Fortuna supporters in a video on the club’s official Twitter account:
Hier möchte jemand ein paar Worte an Euch richten... #f95 pic.twitter.com/WJNKAFd2s1— Fortuna Düsseldorf (@f95) July 9, 2019
He joins American midfielder Alfredo Morales at the club, which recently played its first year of first division soccer since 2012-2013. Fortuna completed the Bundesliga season in 10th place, with 44 points from 34 matches. The Flingeraner finished with 65 goals against and a -16 goal differential, respectively the fifth- and sixth-worst totals in the league. Steffen’s main competition at goalkeeper is veteran Michael Rensing. The 35-year-old former Bayern Munich man made 33 total appearances for the club last season.
This loan move is a return to Germany for Steffen. He left the University of Maryland in 2015 and began his professional career with SC Freiburg. The Pennsylvania native made 14 appearances for the reserve side before signing with the Columbus Crew in order to find his “happiness and passion for soccer again.” Last season, he won MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and earned a spot on the league’s Best XI team.
Steffen made his national team debut in 2018, and has earned 15 caps on his way to becoming the number one goalkeeper. He was voted the 2018 U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year and recently backstopped Gregg Berhalter’s side to a runner-up finish at the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup, surrendering a mere two goals in five appearances.
For all intents and purposes, this appears to be a smart move for Steffen. He’ll likely get the chance to play at Fortuna and continue his professional development. It will be very difficult to break through at City, with 25-year-old Ederson holding down the job and the club’s owners capable of affording virtually any player they desire. Even if he never plays a minute at the Etihad, he’ll have successfully made the jump back to Europe and will have a much easier time joining other clubs.
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