McKennie could be sold this summer; Arsenal should move for the Juventus midfielder
One year after a shock move to Italian giants Juventus in the wake of his impressive period in Gelsenkirchen with FC Schalke 04, American star Weston McKennie is facing a potentially uncertain future with The Old Lady in the wake of the club bringing in Sassuolo’s Italian international midfielder Manuel Locatelli.
Juventus, offerte per McKennie: lo statunitense non è incedibile. Le news di calciomercato#SkySport #SkyCalciomercato #Juventus #McKennie https://t.co/04zQpr6N7U
— skysport (@SkySport) August 19, 2021
According to a report in Football Italia citing Sky Sports in Italy, Juventus may look to already move on from the United States international despite his successful debut season in Turin. With Sky claiming that his future remains unclear and Juventus reportedly already receiving inquiries into his availability, Arsenal should stand up and take notice as their continued re-build could do with another midfielder in at the Emirates.
McKennie; from Kaiserslautern to Turin and everything in between
Despite coming through the ranks of MLS outfit FC Dallas’ vaunted youth academy set-up and setting off on a rapid rise to the highest level of the game in Europe, few remember that McKennie began his footballing journey in Germany.
The son of a US Air Force officer stationed at Ramstein Air Base, he began his youth development at the age of six while living in Kaiserslautern and joined local club FC Phönix Ottenbach in 2004. Five years later he would return stateside where he continued his development in the FC Dallas youth set-up for seven years until 2016 where, after foregoing a chance to sign a full athletic scholarship to play for the University of Virginia, McKennie refused a professional contract from The Toros and instead returned to Germany with Schalke.
He would not remain in the Die Königsblauen academy set up for long and was promoted to the first team just one year after his arrival. All told, McKennie went on to make 75-appearances in the Bundesliga for Schalke, while adding a further sixteen outings between the DFB-Pokal and Champions League.
Schalke’s most expensive departures:
🇩🇪Leroy Sané 52M€
🇩🇪Julian Draxler 43M€
🇩🇪Thilo Kehrer 37M€
🇩🇪Manuel Neuer 30M€
🇺🇸Weston McKennie 19M€
Four academy players + McKennie who was signed at the age of 18. S04 did a great job in developing players in the last decade. pic.twitter.com/SGPC1RVtJF
— Football Talent Scout – Jacek Kulig (@FTalentScout) March 3, 2021
But McKennie took like a fish to water after his €18.5million move to Juventus, immediately fighting for a place in Andrea Pirlo’s first-choice XI and – upon successfully working his way into the Juve midfield – would go on to make 46-appearances across all competitions for the Bianconeri while bagging five Serie A goals in the process.
Now that Andrea Pirlo is out at his post at Juventus stadium in conjunction with the signing of Locatelli that could reduce his involvement under new boss Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus could look to cash in on the American in what would certainly be a profitable gain given the initial fee they laid out of the midfielder. And Arsenal should certainly consider joining the fray if he is to be pushed out the door.
Why McKennie would suit Arsenal and Mikel Arteta
With Hale End graduate Joe Willick now plying his trade full-time at Newcastle, and Arsenal looking to move on from Lucas Torreira, the Gunners can rely on just four first-team midfielders under Mikel Arteta for the 2021-22 Premier League campaign.
Arsenal did well to bring in highly-touted Belgian U21 international Sambi Lokonga from RSC Anderlecht this summer, but apart from the young Red Devil, Arsenal has just Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey, and Mohamed Elneny as midfield options.
There are many who feel this is hardly sufficient for the club despite no European football on offer this season at the Emirates Stadium, with questions surrounding the contract extension given to Xhaka while others feel Elneny is far too limited to suit what Arteta hopes to construct during his time as boss in north London.
As the Gunners an injury crisis away from having to dip into the youth pool and potentially press the likes of Miguel Azeez or Charlie Patino into service well ahead of their timetables, there is already scope to make a move for McKennie who, while still being just 22-years-old, offers a wealth of top-level experience in both the Serie A and Bundesliga as well as Champions League appearances.
A physical box to box player when utilized in his best deployment, McKennie is highly capable on both sides of the ball with his ability to get into the final third and offer a goal threat (one of the reasons many wanted to keep Willock at the club) while being a press machine in the opposition and middle thirds of the pitch; a hallmark of his game at both Schalke and Juventus.
With the right age profile which matches the business Arsenal have championed all summer long (all five signings are 23-years-old or younger), with a wealth of high-level experience across Europe and a potential long-term piece that would make use of the club’s connections to the U.S. fanbase, it is hard to argue against why McKennie would make a great deal of sense.
But how does he stack up against Arsenal’s current midfield quartet? See for yourself.
Note: All data provided by FBRef and are Per90
The data behind McKennie is certainly encouraging. With higher goals contributions than any current option under Arteta’s command and a clear desire to contribute in the opposition area while being a competent passer who generates both shot-creating and goal-creating actions, his all-round profile in midfield would afford the Gunners the type of midfielder that could offer balance in the center of the park while also being tactically versatile.
Though the club is not linked with interest, Weston McKennie certainly presents an option of the sort of central midfielder that could be a linchpin in the long-term project that Arsenal is in the midst of undertaking.