Weston McKennie’s Premier League spell with Juventus has been rough

Football moves fast and moves faster in the January transfer window. All that Weston McKennie had to consider when he moved from Juventus to Leeds United it was probably dropped on him within a few days, if not hours. Questions about roles, money, the future, and the allure of moving to a country where she already speaks the language would all have played a role, and she had limited time to figure it all out, given that she moved a day before the deadline. Life moved fast.

He moved to a club where he knew the manager and he would have been fairly certain that Jesse Marsch would not only be playing him regularly, but in his preferred position as an 8 in a 4-3-3 where he could run around a lot, get into the box and get inside. scoring opportunities.

Less than a week later, Marsch was already on his ass, and McKennie’s stay at Leeds and overall career is looking a bit spotty. Leeds’ future is even more murky as they look like dead men heading for relegation. They are just one point off the bottom three and have their next two games away to Man City and at home to Newcastle. They have one draw and four losses in their last five games and won two of the last eight. The combined score of their last five games? 18-5. But at least they scored in all of them!

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As Marsch found out, if you’re American and things aren’t going well, you become a pretty easy and obvious target for fans and media alike. At least McKennie wasn’t spewing pointless and self-congratulatory crap in the press like he used to (and the future?) manager, which only made it easier to cheat. But McKennie’s stay in the Premier League has been rough.

No goals and no assists for a midfielder whose main strength is how he joins the attack.

FotMob.com, the leading player rating site, has given McKennie an average rating of 6.4 after 15 appearances for England, the definition of mediocre. He saw his shots on goal per 90 minutes go from 0.68 at Juventus to 0.08 at Leeds. The completion rate decreased by five percentage points. Perhaps even worse, they walk a lot in midfield and lose two-thirds of their duels (via FBref.com). And he is not the attacking force he was in Italy and Germany with Schalke as his progressive possessions per game halved in West Yorkshire (also via FBRef.com). It has 0.00 in penalty area ratio.

Circumstances did not help. Since taking over at Marsch, Javi Gracia has used McKennie deeper than anyone else, playing as part of a 4-2-3-1 double-pivot, especially since Tyler Adams was injured. This is not McKennie’s forte.

And that’s actually okay with him, considering he’s never been a great passer or been in a position to fully hit. He was rarely, if ever, asked to do this, because he is not good in them, so Juventus most often placed him on the right side of the narrow 4-4-2. His tackles and interceptions the numbers are much higher, but they have to take into account his position on the field. You’re going to run into a lot of tackles in the middle of midfield, especially when you play at Leeds and there’s not a lot of the ball, just by accident.

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But when Leeds fell apart in the middle, as Crystal Palace, Liverpool or Bournemouth did, McKennie faced a lot of arrows (go to Twitter, search for McKennie and you’ll quickly find out what Leeds fans think of his physique). He’s simply not equipped to handle this position because he’s not a dribbler to get out of tight spaces, he’s not a great passer to set up attacks, and he just doesn’t have enough experience in midfield to know where to be. to suppress attacks against. He loses control there.

McKennie is hurt by Leeds’ disorganization. They obviously didn’t have a plan when they fired Marsch, which probably led to this that he is on the verge of firing his deputy with four games to go. They don’t have a damn value forward that McKennie can link up with or get lost in as his specialty. They seem psychologically broken.

Worryingly for USMNT fans is that two stalwart starters (McKennie and Adams) and one big contributor (Brenden Aaronson) will most likely play in the English league in the season leading up to the Copa America, where the national team hopes. making some serious noise to build momentum and buzz for the World Cup two years later on home soil.

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As it used to be written in these rooms sometimes McKennie is a very strange player. He’s a midfielder who can’t really pass, dribble or tackle. He just… scores goals, but this skill is so valuable that a team cannot live without him. But he needs so much around him to really flourish, which Leeds have none of with Adams out. Unless the USMNT’s new manager is Marsch (and he likely will be), a new national team manager may consider adding a midfielder to the starting line-up. who can pass, seeing how Adams and not really Yunus Musah.

The odds have been stacked against McKennie over the last three years of his career. He was bought by Juve under Andrea Pirlo. He was fired before the end of his first season. Juventus were already in decline when he arrived and it only accelerated after his arrival, which involved systems, ideas and positions. Marsch brought him to England and he left in six days, which again meant a new manager and system and position. This happens in soccer. McKennie can either adapt his game or find a place to do what he does well on a regular basis. None of this seems to be happening in Leeds.

Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate as de la Torre becomes a senior member of the USMNT starting XI fan club.

Source: https://deadspin.com/weston-mckennie-juventus-premier-league-usmnt-1850391594