USMNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen has received glowing praise from Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, and he believes the American can battle with Ederson to be the first-choice goalkeeper.
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Steffen, 25, has stepped in admirably for usual first-choice goalkeeper Ederson in recent games. The Brazilian star tested positive for COVID-19 in late December and has been self-isolating ever since.
After making his Premier League debut at Chelsea in a 3-1 win last week, Steffen starred in City’s 2-0 League Cup semifinal win against Manchester United at Old Trafford Wednesday, pulling off a fine save from Bruno Fernandes early on.
“He [Steffen] has settled incredibly well to the dynamic of the group. He listens in training. He made an incredible save in the first half from Bruno Fernandes, but his other actions, like with the ball, he did really well,” Guardiola said.
“He can fight for No.1. He can put pressure on Eddie, but Eddie is the No.1 in this position right now. If he performs well, he stays No.1. But we cannot forget he [Steffen] played at Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford and solved all the situations he faced brilliantly.”
How much will Steffen play in the second half of the season?
Steffen will play in Man City’s FA Cup game against Birmingham City on Sunday, and that will be his seventh appearance of the season for City.
It is likely he will play in the FA Cup in the remaining months of the 2020-21 season and that could mean another five outings for Man City, if they reach the final and Ederson doesn’t come in for the final few FA Cup games.
That experience would be invaluable for the young American goalkeeper, who needs to keep getting minutes in a big 2021 for the USMNT. Steffen is the undisputed number one but needs to be sharp ahead of World Cup qualifiers, Gold Cup and more.
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Even if his future doesn’t lie with being the number one at Man City (Ederson, 27, is probably one of the top five goalkeepers on the planet) he has proven he can play at the Premier League level and a loan move to a midtable PL club is surely his next move.
Spending last season on loan at Fortuna Dusseldorf in the Bundesliga clearly helped his development and as well as making fine saves, his always-impressive distribution has also improved.
The USMNT need Steffen to being playing regularly and the way he’s stood in for Ederson proves he will be doing that for another team in the Premier League, or in another of Europe’s top leagues, next season.