Weston McKennie: Juventus’ (not so) secret weapon

Category: Player Analysis

From one of the most defensive teams in Europe to a Juventus team that gives him freedom in attack. This is Weston McKennie's transformation and evolution.

Published:26/01/2021

After nine Serie A titles in a row, Juventus’ strategy has taken a surprising turn this summer with the arrival of Andrea Pirlo and a revamp of the roster. Of this summer’s additions, only Álvaro Morata is over 25 years old and it seems that a new group is here to stay in the Bianconeri squad. An unexpected signing was Weston McKennie, the American had been the only positive note in a soulless Schalke side and his loan move was a good option in the COVID summer market.

In just a few months he has already shown how much he can contribute and how his influence is increasing day by day in a midfield where he was theoretically going to be secondary. In his career in Germany, Weston McKennie has always been closer to his own box than opponents’, but Andrea Pirlo had other roles in mind for him. In the past he has shown potential to be a good box-to-box profile for the US national team, playing higher than a holding midfielder, but it was difficult to know how he would respond to the change in demand from CONCACAF qualifiers to a Champions League contender. The answer has been resounding: Weston McKennie is vital in a midfield that, with Arthur, Rabiot, Bentancur and Ramsey, finds it difficult to vary when the opposition adapts to his plan of little directness and a lot of possession.

It was difficult to shine at Schalke in recent years. A rollercoaster of results always guided by a defensive style with little freedom in the opponent’s half. Now McKennie doesn’t have as much influence near his area, his role is important to be the most aggressive in the opponent’s half with and without the ball. His percentage in defensive duels has gone down but his contribution in terms of individual pressure and number of duels has increased. But what has changed the most is where the midfielder moves from helping out on all sides of the defence to providing solutions in front of the ball.

In this role with a presence in the box and with the freedom to drop deep and be the recipient of long passes and, in a way, to provide an alternative to speed up Juventus’ play, Weston McKennie is being the best partner for the Turin attackers. With the ball it was logical to expect a greater success with the change of style but he is growing in vision both for the final pass (‘expected assists’) and in the build-up of open plays (‘xG buildup’).

It seems clear that Juventus will exercise the option to buy McKennie, currently on loan from Schalke, who is performing at his best in Europe and has shown the ability to adapt to different styles and add in different roles. What we saw in matches with the United States MNT showed a parallel reality to his role at Schalke but it was difficult to think that he could have this immediate impact by providing precisely what Andrea Pirlo needs, presence in the box, support from the midfield to the forwards and an alternative to get depth on the ball.

We are Driblab, a consultancy specialized in the statistical analysis of players and teams; our work is focused on advising and minimizing risk in professional football decision-making in areas related to talent detection and footballer evaluations. Our database has more than 180,000 players from more than 180 competitions, covering information from all over the world. Here you can learn more about how we work and what we offer.

Autor: Paco López
For Player Analysis we also recommend you:

The logical evolution of Eder Militao

Eder Militao is a good example of how players need to adapt to different styles of play. We review how the Brazilian has been evolving and why his performance this season is so different.

‘Elevens’: discover the best anywhere in the world

We continue to deepen our numerous tools and functionalities. With ‘Elevens’ you will be able to know which players are the best in each league by position.

Americans in Europe: turn of the second wave

The United States has its best talent scattered throughout Europe. With the first wave already established in big teams, it is the turn of the second wave.

France’s spotlight: four signings to watch

France is always a fantastic place for scouts from stronger leagues to spot talent, but how does Ligue 1 spot talent from other foreign leagues?

Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Expected Goals (xG)

Since 2010, Cristiano Ronaldo has comprehensively and consistently beaten the ‘expected goals’, the most representative statistic of ‘big data’ in the world of football.

Camavinga, the umpteenth French football prodigy

At the age of 18, Eduardo Camavinga is making the biggest leap of his career. We analyse what he did best at Rennes and what his strengths and weaknesses are.

Boulaye Dia: assessing Emery’s new offensive weapon

We take a detailed look at the €12 million signing of the current Europa League champions. What does the advanced data say about Dia?

Tammy & José, turning point?

What can we expect from Tammy Abraham alongside José Mourinho? Looking at her expected goals and youth, perhaps Rome can be a turning point.

‘Kyogoal’, Celtic’s new idol

Kyogo Furuhashi is the sensation of the Scottish Premiership. The new Celtic striker has started the season with six goals in five games, showing a great nose for goal.

Simeone, why Rodrigo de Paul?

Why did Atlético de Madrid think of Rodrigo de Paul? We analyse the Argentine’s value within the 2020/21 La Liga champions.

Driblab

Información corporativa

Somos una empresa con sede en Madrid fundada en 2017 por Salvador Carmona y Cristian Coré Ramiro. Desde nuestros inicios nuestro trabajo se ha centrado en el análisis estadístico de datos para ayudar a los clubes en la planificación deportiva. Somos una consultora big data que ofrece servicios personalizados para cada cliente y defiende un modelo de gestión mixto y una comunicación constante para acompañar el día a día de las instituciones. Nuestro punto fuerte es la más amplia cobertura disponible en número de torneos profesionales y juveniles. Para más detalles, póngase en contacto con nosotros.

Colaboramos con:

           

Hemos aparecido en:


Talk to our speciali