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OFFICIALLY OFFICIAL: Juventus exercise option on Weston McKennie

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The Texas boy will be staying with Juventus for a while.

FC Barcelona v Juventus: Group G - UEFA Champions League Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Early Wednesday morning (at least on the east coast of the United States), Juventus officially announced that they had exercised their option to sign Weston McKennie outright from Schalke 04.

The midfielder was a surprise signing over the summer transfer window, acquired on a loan with an option to buy. The first American man to play for Juventus, at the time he was considered a low-risk, potentially high-reward signing that would at the very least provide a valuable squad player for the 2020-21 season.

No one at the time could have predicted how good, and how important, he would become in such a short amount of time. McKennie has been one of the keys to the midfield. When healthy—which he unfortunately hasn’t been for the past few weeks—he provides a skill set that no one else among Juve’s midfielders has, and helped bind together a shaky unit that still only works best when the precise A-team is on the field together. His pressing ability and willingness to do the dirty work in midfield left the rest of the mids more able to do their jobs unmolested, and his own contributions in the attacking third haven’t been shabby either. In 31 appearances (20 starts) in all competitions, he’s scored five goals and made two assists. The highlight of his season had to be his flying scissor-kick goal at the Camp Nou that helped propel Juve to a 3-0 win over Barcelona to clinch the top spot in their Champions League group. He’s also averaging a key pass per match.

Juventus will now pay €18.5 million, plus €6.5 million in performance-related bonuses, to Schalke over the course of the next three years. McKennie has signed a contract through the 2024-25 season.

While his form has dropped in recent weeks as he’s dealt with a hip injury that had him limping off the pitch on the hour mark on Tuesday against Spezia, McKennie has proven that he’s going to be an integral part of the team going forward, and his full signing is a welcome thing that Juventus will be keeping him for a while—and perhaps encourage the team to look for a few more diamonds in the rough like him.