Wednesday brought a bit of a shocker: Juventus, the nine-time Italian champions, are on the brink of signing an American player for the first time ever in club history.
That player, as we now know, is 21-year-old midfielder Weston McKennie, who has spent the last four-plus years in Germany with Schalke and is looked as a major part of the United States men’s national team’s immediate and long-term future. (You know, if they want to qualify for the next World Cup.) And now that we know that the deal seems to be pretty much agreed to and only final details remain, the next step in the process is one you can probably guess after the initial surprise wears off: When is he going to show up in Italy?
According to Sky Italia’s Gianluca Di Marzio late Wednesday night, medical day for Juve’s first American-born player could be as early as Friday. McKennie is currently in Austria undergoing the beginning stages of Schalke’s preseason training, where he will likely be departing at some point Thursday to make the trip over to Italy and then J Medical before signing his loan deal and then joining his new teammates.
There’s also this: McKennie is set to turn 22 years old on Friday.
(Something tells me celebrating your birthday by signing with one of the biggest clubs in Europe sounds a lot better than how Matthijs de Ligt spent his 21st birthday. But he’s also a wonderful Dutchman, so he’s allowed to do whatever he wants.)
The only real difference between Di Marzio’s report Wednesday night and the one we got from his Sky Italia cohort Fabrizio Romano earlier in the day was just how much McKennie’s loaan deal will cost — €3.5 million as compared to the originally reported €3 million.
Both Di Marzio and Romano said the option to buy will be €18 million.
We have seen a handful of players born in the United States play in Serie A in the past. There’s been Michael Bradley and, most notably, Giuseppe Rossi in recent years. But McKennie is part of a group along with Chelsea’s Cristian Pulisic and other players in either their late teens or early 20s that are scattered around Europe’s top leagues that is expected to big things both across the Atlantic Ocean as well as for their national team.
And if McKennie — who has also reportedly attracted interest from Southampton and Newcastle United in England in recent weeks — is to try and continue that development and fully reach some of that potentially at Juventus, then a nice loan with option to buy deal will be quite the nice little piece of business.