Aston Villa sporting director Johan Lange could solve the club’s midfield problem by signing Juventus star Weston McKennie in the upcoming January transfer window.
Reports in recent months had claimed that the Bianconeri would be willing to let the USA international go in the summer, with “strong interest” from both Villa and fellow Premier League side Spurs.
While a move failed to materialise before the deadline, journalist Alan Nixon then revealed that Dean Smith’s side will look to make a fresh attempt at signing McKennie in a couple of months.
And now, speaking to GIVEMESPORT amid the speculation linking Villa with a move for the midfielder, The Express and Star journalist Luke Hatfield said: “They definitely need someone who can provide some defensive stability in the middle of the park, but I think they’re trying to find almost that kind of hybrid player. The one who can win the ball back and screen that back four, but then also progress the ball forward.”
After months of speculation linking them with a move for the likes of Southampton’s James Ward-Prowse, one of the big things that Lange missed for Villa was the signing of a new central midfielder.
In making a move for McKennie, they can rectify that mistake.
Hailed as a “leader” by David Wagner, the American’s performances in the Bundesliga for Schalke earned him a high-profile move to Juventus, where former boss Andrea Pirlo was a big fan of his.
Calling him a “rock“, the Italy icon added: “He’s young and can improve a lot. In my opinion, he’s a midfielder who can play as a No 8 in a three in midfield, right or left. He gets in the box and scores goals but he’s also very good at winning the ball back.
“His role is in a three in midfield as one of the two players on either side of the regista. Last year we played in a different system, so he had to adapt.”
Dubbed as an “outstanding talent“, the £22.5m-rated McKennie is as Pirlo says, a real box-to-box threat. While the end product hasn’t always been there – he’s only scored 11 goals in his short career thus far – all the key elements are: the power, the pace, the tackling and the energy to get up and down the pitch.
As per Whoscored, he has an impressive career average of making 1.3 tackles and 1.2 interceptions per game, while also managing just a shade under one shot and key pass per match too – a real indication of his all-action style of play.
That’s significantly better than what Marvelous Nakamba has managed in his career, and while the Zimbabwe international might boast slightly better defensive stats than McKennie, he doesn’t come close to him in terms of the ball at his feet.
As Hatfield says, that hybrid midfielder is what Villa are looking for, and McKennie fits that bill to a tee.