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
Para Player Analysiswe also recommend you:

A replacement for Manuel Locatelli

Replacing players of enormous quality is an effort that advanced statistics help to manage. We present a real case with the Italian Manuel Locatelli.

Can football be reduced to numbers?

Based on Driblab data, the newspaper ‘El País’ explains the language and value of advanced statistics in the world of professional football.

Player Threat Map: how to measure the threat generation

How can we measure the threat generated by a player? We take a closer look at our new metric: Player Threat Map.

Diego Rossi, time for change?

Is Diego Rossi ready to make the leap to Europe? We analyse his performance over the last two seasons.

Emi Buendía at the moment of truth

We analyse the progression of Emiliano Buendía from his time at Getafe to his arrival at Aston Villa.

2020-21 season: Five European U21 newcomers

After a particularly difficult season, it is all the more remarkable to stand out at a young age. We take a closer look at five talents in the top five leagues.

Aymeric Laporte with Luis Enrique

Together with the newspaper ‘Marca’, we analyse Laporte’s performance, comparing him with other Spanish centre-backs who have been regulars under Luis Enrique, after obtaining Spanish nationality.

CAF Champions League K.O. Stage: Big Data finds the top talents

We take a look at some of the young talents who will be fighting for the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederations League in the play-offs starting on 14 May.

Pedro Gonçalves, Amorim’s hammer

Portugal’s Pedro Gonçalves, 22, is one of the key attacking players for Ruben Amorim’s unbeaten Sporting.

Will the best Eden Hazard be back?

The newspaper ‘El País’ takes a look back, based on data and metrics from Driblab’, to remember the best Eden Hazard and how injuries have punished his confidence.

Driblab

Corporate Information

We are a company based in Madrid founded in 2017 by Salvador Carmona and Cristian Coré Ramiro. Since our inception our work has focused on statistical analysis to help clubs in sports planning. We are a consulting firm that offers personalized services for each client and defends a mixed management model and constant communication to accompany the day to day of the institutions. Our strength is the widest coverage available in number of professional and junior tournaments. For more details please contact us.

Colaboramos con:

           

Hemos aparecido en:


Talk to our speciali