Man City complete $10m capture of USMNT goalkeeper Steffen

Columbus Crew have confirmed that United States international goalkeeper Zack Steffen has secured a $10 million (£8m) switch to Manchester City and will complete a move in July 2019.

Goal revealed last week that the 23-year-old had a deal in place to link up with the reigning Premier League champions.

The initial terms of the agreement include a $7.5m (£6m) fee that could rise to $10m if Steffen reaches certain incentives. 

That price tag will see the USMNT star re-write the record books as the most expensive goalkeeper in MLS history.

Steffen told the Crew’s official website on seeing a high-profile transfer put in place: “Any success that I have had as a goalkeeper in MLS with Crew SC is a testament to those around me who have pushed me – team-mates, coaches, staff, family, friends and supporters.

“Today’s announcement regarding next summer is a special moment for me and I look forward to finishing my time with this club on a strong note. I am eager to continue to put in the work to improve and be the best teammate I can.”

Steffen will officially become a City player when the 2019 Secondary Transfer Window opens on July 9, 2019.

Zack Steffen USA USMNT Colombia 11102018

“This is a historic transaction for the club and a special moment for Zack Steffen that we are immensely proud of,” said Columbus Crew’s interim general manager Pat Onstad.

“Today’s announcement is the culmination of two-and-a-half years of development and success for Zack.

“As someone who worked closely with Zack throughout, on behalf of the club, I would like to say that we couldn’t be happier for him.

“Manchester City Football Club is one of the top clubs in the world and we are pleased to finalize this agreement that benefits the player and both clubs.

“We continue to believe that players that come to Crew SC have an opportunity to develop and become great players either here in MLS or abroad.

“Ahead of Zack’s departure next summer, our scouts already have players targeted as the club identifies a high-caliber replacement.”

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Steffen was voted Major League Soccer Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year for 2018, becoming the second-youngest recipient of that prize and the Crew’s first since 1997.

He made his senior debut in 2017 and is considered to be a hot prospect for the future.

It does, however, remain to be seen what City’s plans are for him, with it likely that a loan move will be required as he waits on a UK work permit.


Marcelino suggests Valencia open to Batshuayi departure

Valencia coach Marcelino has suggested the club are open to Michy Batshuayi leaving after an underwhelming loan spell from Chelsea.

Batshuayi joined Chelsea in 2016 to significant fanfare after impressing with Marseille, but he has had little impact at the club.

The 25-year-old made 28 appearances in his first season at Stamford Bridge, scoring nine goals, including the winner at West Brom that secured the Premier League title. 

However just seven of those appearances were starts, with Batshuayi struggling to dislodge Diego Costa from the central striking role under Antonio Conte.

After again struggling for regular starts during the first half of last season Batshuayi was shipped out to Borussia Dortmund on a temporary deal in January and caught the eye, scoring seven times in 10 Bundesliga games.

That form saw him attract significant interest in pre-season, with Chelsea again keen to see him leave, and Valencia struck a deal which included a purchase option.

However, he has struggled to replicate his Dortmund form in Spain, scoring just once in 13 La Liga outings. That has sparked reports claiming Valencia want to send him back to Chelsea early.

When asked about Batshuayi’s future Marcelino did little to cool such speculation.

“At the right time will analyse the final situation and we will decide [what to do with Batshuayi],” Marcelino told reporters.

“There is a transfer [clause], I do not know what the situation is contractually, but for all parties who want to leave, we will look for what is best for Valencia and thus the appropriate decisions will be made.”

Valencia’s form has begun to improve in recent weeks after a poor start to the season that saw them win just one of their first 13 matches in all competitions.

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Four wins out of their last seven games have lifted Los Che up to 15th in La Liga and progress in Copa del Rey.

However, the club have been eliminated from the Champions League having taken just five points from five matches.

They take on Manchester United at the Mestalla in their final group game on Wednesday already guaranteed to finish third in Group H and drop into the Europa League next year.


Kovac dismisses Bayern link with Pavard

Bayern Munich head coach Niko Kovac has dismissed speculation Benjamin Pavard has agreed a deal to join the club from Stuttgart.

Reports have claimed Bayern are keen to sign the France defender, a World Cup winner this year, as soon as the January transfer window.

Pavard, who is contracted to Stuttgart to 2021, is sidelined with a torn hamstring sustained against Borussia Monchengladbach earlier this month.

The 22-year-old previously suggested he could leave the Bundesliga at the end of the season.

However, Kovac has denied claims Bayern will be Pavard’s next destination, saying a defender is not on their shortlist during the winter transfer window.

“He is a very, very good player. He has his qualities,” Kovac told a news conference ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League game at Ajax. 

“However, we currently have three central defenders, we do not need a fourth, fifth or sixth. I do not think there will be any change in winter.”

While the rumour mill is linking Pavard with a Bayern switch, speculation continues to surround the future of the club’s star striker Robert Lewandowski.

The Poland international has frequently been linked with Real Madrid but Kovac believes the 30-year-old will stay with the Bundesliga champions.

“Lewy is a kind of life insurance for us,” Kovac added.

“You can see that he absolutely identifies himself and does not want to leave and that he gets the status of the whole club. He is currently feeling that, that’s why he plays so well.”

Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has indicated Ajax’s highly rated midfielder Frenkie de Jong is on Bayern’s radar.

And winger Serge Gnabry would welcome De Jong and fellow Netherlands international Matthijs de Ligt to the Allianz Arena.

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“They are already very developed for their age, especially the two – Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt,” Gnabry told reporters.

“Of course, it would be nice if they would come to Bayern, but that is something for Hasan Salihamidzic to work on.”

Bayern Munich have already qualified from Champions League Group E and will secure top spot should they avoid defeat in Amsterdam on Wednesday.


‘I’m really at home here’ – Sane open to new Man City deal

Leroy Sane says he feels “really at home” at Manchester City and remains optimistic about signing a new deal at the Etihad Stadium.

Sane has two-and-a-half years left on his current contract signed when he joined from Bundesliga side Schalke for £37million in the summer of 2016.

The Germany international has been in talks over a new deal for several months but has yet to reach an agreement with the Premier League champions.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said last week that he was optimistic the 22-year-old would stay at the Etihad Stadium for “many years” to come.

He has now been given further encouragement by Sane himself, who has revealed how happy he is with life in Manchester.

“From the beginning, when I arrived here, I have been really happy. I enjoy playing with the coach and the players,” he said.

“They are all amazing but most importantly they are all amazing people and good characters.

“I have felt really at home here since day one and of course [signing an extension] is possible.”

Sane began the season out of the side, starting just two of Man City’s seven games in all competitions, following a difficult summer that saw the winger left out of Germany’s World Cup squad.

Leroy Sane Manchester City 2018-19

However, the 22-year-old has been a regular in recent weeks, scoring five goals in his last seven Premier League appearances as well as scoring twice for Germany on international duty.

Sane says squad rotation is something he is happy to accept at City given the level of talent at Guardiola’s disposal.

“Even if I am not playing for a certain time, I am still happy to be here and to play for this club, to work with these players and the coach,” he added.

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“He is doing it good. Every one of us knows that we have to rotate sometimes because in every single position we have more than one or two good players.

“Obviously there is a time when you do not start from the beginning. You have to accept it. I think it is also good to put more pressure on everyone.”

Sane could be involved when City look to bounce back from defeat to Chelsea last time out when they host Hoffenheim in the Champions League on Wednesday.


Yaya Toure leaves Olympiacos after just three months

Olympiacos have announced that Yaya Toure’s contract has been terminated with immediate affect after just five appearances in his second spell with the Greek giants.

The 35-year-old returned to the Karaiskakis Stadium in September after being released by Manchester City following eight years at the Etihad Stadium.

But manager Pedro Martins used the Ivorian sparingly, giving him just five run-outs in as many months at the Athens club.

And after being left out of Martins’ last five match day squads, Toure has parted ways with Olympiacos with less than half of the campaign gone.

“Yaya is and remains an important member of the Olympiacos family, who has marked a central part of the history of the club,” a statement from the Super League club said.

“Olympiacos would like to thank him for everything he has offered to the Club.

“Yaya will remain deeply devoted to the club and wishes to Olympiacos lots of success.

“Yaya is leaving as a friend and the doors at Olympiacos will always be open for him. Our paths will surely cross again.”

Neither Olympiacos or Toure confirmed the length of the deal upon the move being announced earlier this season.

During his one and only full campaign at Olympiacos, Toure played a key role as the club won the league and cup double in the 2005-06 campaign.

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He described his relationship with Olympiacos as “special” upon re-joining them but he will now be a free agent ahead of the January transfer window.

West Ham were thought to be leading the race to sign the three-time Premier League winner in the summer, after his agent confirmed he had passed a medical in London.

Manuel Pellegrini said that Toure had wanted to move to the London Stadium, just days before he completed his move back to Greece.