On paper, it seemed almost like the perfect kind of landing spot.
You had the American manager leading the way with a growing number of American players on a roster that had a good number of talent players besides the U.S.-centric vibes. Throw in soon-to-be American owners jumping into the fray from one form of football to another, and Weston McKennie’s first post-Juventus landing spot made a whole lot of sense.
That was in January. The picture in the final days of May is a different story.
Leeds United, where McKennie spent the second half of the 2022-23 season on loan with an option to buy, was relegated from the Premier League after their 4-1 loss to Tottenham on Sunday, the final day of the year in England’s top flight. This matters not only because Leeds is going down, but because their Premier League standing going up in smoke means that the €34 million option to buy in McKennie’s loan deal won’t become permanent and the American midfielder will return to Juventus this summer.
What’s next for McKennie — as well as Juve’s other two midfielders on loan in Europe, Arthur and Denis Zakaria — is totally up in the air.
Leeds United will not trigger buy option clause for Weston McKennie, as it was going to be automatically activated in case of Premier League football next season for €34m. ⚪️ #LUFC— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 28, 2023
McKennie will return to Juventus in the summer. pic.twitter.com/ZqShI9t8IE
There are rumors that other Premier League clubs might be interested in signing McKennie this summer, but there’s nothing all that concrete right now after the Leeds option has blown up.
But after a less-than stellar first five months in the Premier League, it doesn’t seem like a given that Juventus will be to recoup the same kind of money that Leeds probably would have paid if they had stayed up next season. Leeds’ status in the Premier League was always the sticking point, though. We wrote about it in January, and obviously it’s the reason why we’re here today.
To say things were anything but stable during McKennie’s tenure at Leeds would be a massive understatement. McKennie played for three different managers in less than half a season — fellow American Jesse Marsch, Javi Gracia and then Sam Allardyce for the final four games of the season as Leeds tried to salvage any sort of final survival hopes.
His performances weren’t great, either, with the complete uncertainty at the manager position and the constant changing of tactics likely playing a considerable role in that.
In total, McKennie didn’t score a goal and recorded one assist in 19 appearances for Leeds.