Man City pursuit of Stefan Ortega gives Pep Guardiola a simple transfer decision to make – Jack Flintham
Out of all the transfer speculation floating around Manchester City at the moment – both arrivals and departures – the Blues’ pursuit of Stefan Ortega may make the most sense.
Even so, it was still a tad surprising to see City wanting to bring in a 29-year-old goalkeeper from Arminia Bielefeld this summer, especially considering the array of ‘keepers already at the club. Ederson is, of course, Guardiola’s first choice but Zack Steffen and Scott Carson will both be on the books this coming season.
Gavin Bazunu has now left for Southampton but four goalkeepers, should Ortega sign, is still way too many, even with the fixture demands on the Blues in the next campaign. Therefore, the City manager needs to make a simple transfer decision this summer.
If Ortega does arrive, Steffen must be sent out on loan for the benefit of his future development. It would be unfair to single out Steffen for what was a flat performance from the whole team in last season’s FA Cup semi-final first-half against Liverpool.
However, the American appeared to be lacking that match fitness that a No.2 goalkeeper must possess in the Premier League. His indecisiveness which led to Sadio Mane’s goal was a prime example of this.
At 27, he needs to be playing first-team football on a consistent basis to ensure that he reaches his full potential. Arguably, at present, he has been left to flounder on the bench.
Just nine appearances last season is not enough for a player of Steffen’s quality and experience level, especially if you want him to come good in the big cup matches and one day replace Ederson. Looking at Steffen’s past he has never had that time as a first-choice ‘keeper in Europe which is needed – this should be rectified this summer.
Ortega’s arrival should also be seen as a wake-up call for Ederson. His overall work rate and performances still keep him as Guardiola and the fans’ favourite but there is no harm in having some healthy competition. With a wealth of experience to his name, Ortega can help push Ederson to even better performances next season.
As for Steffen, if allowed his loan move, this will be the perfect opportunity to get fully fit for the World Cup and show City what they are missing. Who knows, in 2023/24 the American could be the one pushing Ederson all the way for that No.1 spot.