Columbus Crew SC turns down Bristol City's offer for Zack Steffen
Columbus Crew SC turned down an offer from English Championship side Bristol City for goalkeeper Zack Steffen on Thursday.
"We evaluated an offer and decided it wasn't the right opportunity for the club at this moment," Crew sporting director and coach Gregg Berhalter told ESPN.
But following a meeting on Thursday morning, the decision was made by Columbus management to reject the $3.9 million (£3m) offer, sources said.
One source added that while the money was right, replacing the 23-year-old at this point in the season would have been difficult, if not impossible. For that reason, it seems likely that Steffen will remain in Columbus through the end of the year, though there are no absolutes.
There was also the issue that had Steffen decided to make the move, he would have had difficulty securing a work permit. UK work permit rules require a player to have played 75 percent of his country's competitive internationals in the last two years, so long as the country in question ranks 70th or higher in FIFA's rankings. While the U.S. satisfies the latter requirement, Steffen has played just three friendlies so far.
A player who doesn't automatically qualify for a work permit could file an appeal based on a "special talent" exemption, though that process can be unpredictable. The player could still sign and go out on loan elsewhere in Europe.
This wouldn't have been Steffen's first foray into European soccer, and it's possible he's simply being selective when it comes to his next overseas club. After excelling at the collegiate level with the University of Maryland, he signed with German club Freiburg in December 2014.
Despite impressing for the U.S. under-20 national team at the 2015 U-20 World Cup, he never made a first-team appearance at Freiburg and secured a move to Columbus midway through the 2016 campaign.
He became the starter ahead of the 2017 season, and his outstanding performances helped Columbus reach the Eastern Conference finals, where it fell to eventual champion Toronto FC. All told, Steffen has made 55 league and playoff appearances with 18 shutouts.
Steffen most recently appeared for the U.S. in last month's 1-1 draw with eventual World Cup champions France.