Guardiola, Ederson and the 'best of the best' - why USMNT goalkeeper Steffen joined Man City
Zack Steffen has not returned to Manchester City for a comfortable life on the substitutes’ bench.
The United States national team goalkeeper will spend thisseason at the Etihad Stadium as the back-up to number one pickEderson but the 25-year-old believes it will be a huge help to his career.
Ederson’s own game has taken a huge leap forward since he joined City with the Brazilian’s ability to play pinpoint passes under pressure marking him out as a leader for a new style of goalkeeping.
It’s a philosophy promoted by Pep Guardiola who sees the role as more than just simply stopping shots, with ball-playing skills honed on the training ground with the help of goalkeeping coach Xabi Mancisidor.
And rather than seeing the position of a number two as a negative, Steffen believes it is a huge opportunity to enhance his all-round game and improve as a goalkeeper.
“Getting games every week for a young goalkeeper is very important,” he said. “But I signed with City, I wanted to come to City and learn from the best of the best. Learn from Pep, learn from Xabi and learn from Eddie. And then there are all the top players here at this club.
“I wanted to come to the club - I want to get better, become better. And I believe that in doing that, you have got to play with the best.”
After a short spell in Germany with Freiburg, Steffen showed his potentialin the U.S. with Columbus Crew where he was namedMLS Goalkeeper of the Year shortly before his £7 million ($10m) switch to City in June 2019.
A season on loan at Fortuna Dusseldorf was curtailed by two knee injuries and now he has returned to the Etihad Stadium with those injury concerns behind him and ready to show what he can do.
He replaces former Chile goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who played in the majority of City’s domestic cup matches, while a truncated fixture schedule following the impact of Covid-19 last seasoncould potentially give Steffen even more first-team opportunities.
“My mindset is just to come in and work really hard, learn every day, get better every day and enjoy the ride,” he said.“Because it's short, it goes by fast and everything else will fall into line how it's meant to, how it's supposed to.
“My mentality is to come and work hard. Leave everything that I have out on the field every day in training, support the guys and just learn from the best.
“I'm very happy to be here and I think this year is going to bea big growth year for me, if I stay fit and healthy. If I work hard, if I do all the right things I think it could be a big step forward for me.”
USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter, who also worked with Steffen at Columbus, has praised the keeper's calmness on the ball in the past andthat quality suggests he could be the perfect addition to Guardiola’s goalkeeping options.
Like Ederson, Steffen started out as an outfield player as a junior in Pennsylvania, which helped his ball-playing skills.
Berhalter is a huge admirer of Guardiola as a coach and Steffen, who has won 17 U.S. caps, is hoping he can take some of his new skills to the national team.
“I switched when I was young, probably when I was 10 or 11, but I think it helps having played outfield,” he said.
“And then I would say just playing at Columbus with Gregg Berhalter - he really loves Pep’s style. He loves to keep the ball, loves his goalkeepers to be able to play out from the back, read the game well and do all that, so that definitely helped me transition into this position.
“It’s very similar. I'm definitely learning new things, new techniques here, things that are going tomake me better. So I've just got to trustthe process and take it day-by-day, step-by-step."
With City being given extra time off following their extended season along withquarantine rules and international matches, the first-team squad is only getting together in its entirety for the first time this week.
After falling short in both the Premier League and Champions League, Guardiola’s demands will be high as he enters what is his final year under contractat the Etihad.
Steffen, along with a number of new arrivals at the club, is aiming to play his part by giving some fresh energy as they aim to put a stronger challenge to last season’s runaway leaders Liverpool.
“We've gotten some new guys in, some new blood, which always helps to find some more passion,” he added.
“But from what I heard, the guys are really good guys. The camaraderie amongst the team, the group, isreally close and really strong.
Source : goal.com
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