One week after joining his new club for training, Weston McKennie was introduced to Italian media on Monday with a new challenge on the horizon in Italy.
McKennie was officially loaned to Serie A side Juventus last week from Bundesliga club Schalke, providing a new and exciting opportunity for the young midfielder. McKennie, who was linked with a permanent move away from Gelsenkirchen this summer, now comes into the fold in Andrea Pirlo’s squad looking to continue his already exciting journey as a professional.
“The idea of coming to play here, in a club with a great history, immediately thrilled me,” McKennie told reporters. “I got to know football as a child in Germany and when I had to choose between this sport and American football, I chose football, and here I am.”
“There was no need to convince me to come to Juventus, because being here is a dream that has become a reality.”
The 22-year-old has quickly risen into a consistent first team player domestically while also growing into a leader internationally for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Since making his debut for Schalke’s first team in 2017, McKennie has totaled 91 first team appearances while scoring five goals and registering seven assists.
Not only has McKennie impressed with his range and versatility as a midfielder, but he’s turned himself into an all-around player. He was arguably Schalke’s best player last season despite the club ending the season on an 15-match winless run in all competitions.
After Juventus came in late to add the midfielder on a loan deal, McKennie will now become the first American player to play for the historic club.
“It is a great honor to be the first American player in the history of Juventus,” McKennie said. “Having the opportunity to wear this shirt, representing my country and bringing young Americans closer to football makes me proud.”
“Juventus is an international club, it is famous all over the world. In the United States, shops sell the jerseys. If I can contribute to further growth of the brand, I will be delighted.”
McKennie comes into a good situation with Juventus, a club that has won nine straight Serie A titles and is always fighting in the UEFA Champions League every season. Not only will McKennie work with the likes of Pirlo and star forward Cristiano Ronaldo, but he could jump right into the starting lineup due to Juve’s midfield set to see two more players leave before the new season begins.
Veterans Aaron Ramsey and Sami Khedira have been linked with moves away from the club, opening a huge hole for McKennie to jump right in. With Rodrigo Bentancur and fellow summer arrival Artur likely to provide the creative play in midfield, McKennie and Adrien Rabiot could form a strong partnership with them in Pirlo’s system.
“My strongest attribute,” McKennie questioned? “The recovery of ball possession; I talked to Andrea Pirlo and he appreciates this feature. We are on the same wave length as to my position on the pitch.”
“Also playing with Cristiano Ronaldo, seeing how he moves and how he works will bring me great benefits.”
McKennie’s new challenge begins on Sept. 20th as Juventus face Sampdoria in its opening match before back-to-back tough tests against AS Roma and Napoli.