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When Juventus made the decision to sign Weston McKennie on a loan deal last summer, they did so because of his obvious potential.

The U.S. men’s national team midfielder wasn’t quite one of the most heralded youngsters in the world but, after several years in Schalke’s first team, he was close enough.

Juve felt he was one for the future – but capable of contributing to the present. McKennie, though, has quickly become more important than even Juventus could have imagined.

As a result, the Italian champions have now announced that they will be  exercising their right to make McKennie’s move to Turin permanent for an initial €18.5 million (£16m/$22m).

It represents an excellent bit of business by the Bianconeri, given the 22-year-old would undoubtedly command double that fee on the open market. Juve have locked down a player perfectly placed to help them make the move from one era of success to another.

Of course, when he joined, McKennie was far from a sure thing. He’d thrived at Schalke, who, at the time, were only beginning what has now become a historic tailspin, and had been linked with mid-table teams in England and Germany before Juventus suddenly entered the fray.

It was a shrewd move. Schalke were more than willing to do a deal having been hit harder than most by the economic crisis caused by Covid-19, while Juve needed a young, low-cost signing capable of reinvigorating an ageing and ineffective midfield. 

The question was whether McKennie was really the answer to their problems. Playing regular Bundesliga football at such a young age was undoubtedly impressive but Juventus are a very different animal to Schalke. The Bianconeri are led by Cristiano Ronaldo, and teams led by Cristiano Ronaldo don’t tolerate players that need time to adjust.

But, while Ronaldo obviously remains Juve’s most important player, one could make the argument that McKennie is now also vital to the team’s chances of success this season. Continue reading

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