MANCHESTER CITY are ready to sell Zack Steffen this summer – but Middlesbrough will have to fight off strong competition from Germany if they are to land the goalkeeper on a permanent basis.

Steffen was one of the stars of Boro’s season after signing on loan last July, starting all bar one of the club’s matches as they narrowly missed out on winning promotion.

The USA international was an ever-present under Michael Carrick, but his loan came to an end when Boro lost to Coventry City in last week’s play-off semi-final.

He is contracted to Manchester City until the summer of 2025, having initially joined the recently-crowned Premier League champions in 2019 in a £7m move from US side Columbus Crew.

However, he does not appear to have a long-term future at the Etihad Stadium, with City boss Pep Guardiola happy with his current first-choice pairing of Ederson, who is firmly established as the club’s number one goalkeeper, and German Stefan Ortega, who started Sunday’s 1-0 win over Chelsea.

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

As a result, City will listen to offers this summer, with Steffen having indicated a desire to move on anyway given the likely lack of opportunities with his current permanent employers.

“I don’t think I’ll go back (to City),” said Steffen, when asked about his future while on international duty in the US earlier this year. “No, I want to be playing. Although I had a great time at City and I love those guys, and obviously (it’s) an amazing club, I don’t really have any plans to go back.”

Boro would love to sign Steffen on a permanent basis, with Carrick an avowed admirer of the American. Steffen’s comfort in possession suits the style the Boro boss is encouraging his side to play, while he also established a reputation as one of the best shot-stoppers in the Championship during his loan spell on Teesside.


However, there is an acceptance within Boro’s recruitment team that it will be extremely difficult to pull off a deal for Steffen this summer. Manchester City are set to demand a fee of around £10m, while Steffen’s contract at the Etihad is understood to be worth more than £60,000-a-week, putting him well beyond Boro’s current wage ceiling.

To further complicate matters, the German media claim Steffen is the subject of strong interest from at least two clubs within the Bundesliga, who would potentially be able to outbid Boro in terms of both a transfer fee and wages.

While Steffen was born in the US and began his career in the American collegiate system, he has strong ties to Germany as he joined Freiburg in 2015 at the age of just 19.

He spent a season playing with Freiburg’s second team before heading back to the United States, but returned to Germany as a Manchester City player in 2019-20 to spend the season on loan at Fortuna Dusseldorf.

If Boro cannot engineer a deal for Steffen, they will have to look elsewhere for a new first-choice goalkeeper, with Carrick seemingly reluctant to promote Liam Roberts.

Roberts joined Boro from Northampton Town last summer, and started four league games under former boss Chris Wilder last autumn. However, he has only ever been an unused substitute under Carrick, with the current head coach even selecting Steffen for Boro’s FA Cup third-round tie with Brighton rather than giving Roberts a run-out in the first team.