Middlesbrough have been huge beneficiaries of the loan market in recent seasons, and a Manchester City’s Zach Steffen arriving last term was a huge success story.
Middlesbrough secured the loan signing at the start of last season, and Steffen quickly established himself as the club’s number one choice between the sticks under both Chris Wilder and current boss Michael Carrick.
The Teessiders narrowly missed out on a place in the play-off final, losing to Coventry City over two legs in the semis. But had Carrick’s side secured promotion to the top flight, Steffen and Boro may not have gone their separate ways.
Speaking to the On the Judy podcast, the 28-year-old spoke highly of his time at the Riverside, and of his former boss. But when quizzed on a return to the club, he stated that it could have happened had Middlesbrough been plying their trade in the Premier League this season.
“I would like to have gone back this season,” he said.
“But with my knee… if we’d been promoted I’d have maybe put the knee off until next summer, but because we didn’t go up I thought this was the best time to get the knee op and get it cleaned up and [the] best time to have four months out.”
Steffen or Dieng?
Seny Dieng has been a revelation since his arrival from QPR in the summer, possibly making the biggest impact out of any of the new signings week on week. But Steffen does carry a certain pedigree and having played and trained with some of the best players in the world at Manchester City, the American could’ve been a better acquisition.
But having said that, Steffen would likely be Boro’s top earner had he arrived on a permanent deal or even on another loan, whilst a permanent fee could have been outside of the Championship side’s spending power. In that case, Dieng seems like a better value for money.
If Middlesbrough secure promotion to the Premier League this season, this could be a deal to keep an eye on, especially considering Steffen will be entering into the final year of his contract at the end of this season.