Weston McKennie is on the same wave length with Andrea Pirlo at Juventus

It's not every day that an American gets a formal presentation at a big European club, let alone a club like Juventus.

On Monday, the nine-time defending Serie A champion introduced Weston McKennie to the Italian press nine days after his signing from Schalke 04.

The moment was not lost on the 22-year-old midfielder, who signed a one-year loan deal.

"It is a great honor to be the first American player in the history of Juventus," he said. "Having the opportunity to wear this shirt, representing my country and bringing young Americans closer to football makes me proud."

McKennie will also be the first American to play with Cristiano Ronaldo since Tim Howard was the Portuguese star's teammate for three seasons at Manchester United.

“Playing with Cristiano Ronaldo, seeing how he moves and how he works will bring me great benefits," said McKennie.

The Texan is on a one-year loan deal for 4.5 million euros ($5.3 million), though there's a performance-based option for the move to become permanent for a transfer fee of 18.5 million euros ($22 million). Juventus can exercise the option for the same amount even if the thresholds aren't met. Bonus clauses could take the fee to 25.5 million euros ($30 million).

Juve midfield. McKennie played multiple positions at Schalke but he will likely play in midfield for first-year coach Andrea Pirlo, who replaced Maurizio Sarri following Juve's Champions League elimination to Lyon in August.

Breaking into the Juve midfield won't be easy.

The Bianconeri, who open Sept. 20 at home against Juve face Sampdoria, return 22-year-old Uruguayan Rodrigo Bentancur and 25-year-old Frenchman Adrien Rabiot. Bentancur was one the best midfielders in Serie last season. Rabiot earned a recall to the French national team for the first time since refusing to accept an alternate's role on the 2018 World Cup team.

Brazilian Arthur arrived from Barcelona in the deal for Miralem Pjanic, while 20-year-old Swede Dejan Kulusevski was Serie A's Young Player of the Year on loan to Parma. Italian Federico Bernardeschi is currently sidelined with a thigh strain. French World Cup champion Blaise Matuidi has already joined Inter Miami, and veterans Sami Khedira and Aaron Ramsey could be on the move.

For the second time in McKennie's career, he will get to play in the UEFA Champions League. The competition will be a priority for Juventus, who has been runner-up five times -- 1997, 1998, 2003, 2015 and 2017 -- since winning its last title in 1996.

Pirlo's first preseason camp has been broken up by UEFA Nations League qualifying, but he says he has been working with Juventus players doing a better job of winning the ball back.

“Looking at the last Champions League," he said, "the teams that went all the way were the ones who were trying to recover the ball in the shortest possible time. That must be a characteristic that distinguishes us.”

It also fits right into McKennie's strengths.

“My strong point? The recovery of ball possession,” he said. “I talked to Andrea Pirlo and he appreciates this feature. We are on the same wave length as to my position on the pitch."

3 comments about "Weston McKennie is on the same wave length with Andrea Pirlo at Juventus".
  1. R2 Dad, September 8, 2020 at 9:03 a.m.

    I saw the interview as well. Very happy for him, lots of opportunity for quality training, but didn't hear much about what he can do for the club. Ball recovery, on a team that has majority possession? Shalke was mostly a counterattacking team the last couple of years. There is no guarantee of CL play come the knockout rounds. This is an inexpensive insurance policy for Pirlo, gives him more options--but it's just a loan. I hope he is as excited in February.

  2. Ben Myers, September 8, 2020 at 1:04 p.m.

    McKennie is in a good place to learn from the maestro Pirlo, similar to Pulisic's relationship with Lampard, another world-class master midfielder.

  3. frank schoon replied, September 8, 2020 at 1:22 p.m.

    Ben, that would be nice if McKennie plays that style of soccer Pirlo played but he doesn't. He'll be used as muscle not brains and technique the way Pirlo played, he's totally different. Signing a one-year on contract does not do much for him... I'll I want for McKennie is to for him to learn something else than what he got in Germany.

    Likewise, Lampard played a totally different position and game than Pulisic and therefore I don't see him benefitting unless he played a Lampard role. I think Pulisic will a lot more from his teammates than from Lampard. Chelsea just bought from Ajax their best player, Ziyech. Note and watch how Ziyech plays from a similar position as Pulisic but on the other side. Ziyech does not employ speed like Pulisic but more technique and smart along with great passing ability
    Chelsea-debuut Ziyech: nu al nummer één voor vrije trappen en corners | VoetbalPrimeur.nl

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