Since arriving at the Midlands club in October, manager Unai Emery has been working wonders with a squad that looked devoid of life and bereft of ideas mere months ago, but further firepower would duly enhance the prospects of success.
USMNT phenom McKennie has indeed been touted for a move to Villa Park this winter, with Birmingham Live’s John Townley tweeting that the outfit had “made contact” with the Old Lady for a player worth around €30m (£26m) at the beginning of the month.
And now, according to CBS Sports reporter Ben Jacobs, Villa have indeed made “an approach” for the player but the American is waiting for other suitors, with the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur all interested.
While the Villan faithful might be concerned by the player’s apparent disinterest in donning claret and blue colours this season, Emery certainly puts forth a tantalising case to join and put faith in his ability to ascend the club back to the upper echelon of English football.
The 51-year-old has overseen five victories from just seven Premier League matches since taking to the dugout, and has instilled belief and re-established fluidity following a lacklustre period under previous boss Steven Gerrard.
Indeed, the Claret & Blue now perch in 11th place in the division after 20 matches, just a single point behind Chelsea in the top half and recent action in the January transfer window certainly points towards a newfound onus on bolstering the squad with signings to make a profound impact.
McKennie brings this calibre; this season, the American has scored three goals and served two assists from 20 appearances for the Old Lady, with the 24-year-old indeed one of the most consistent performers on the team sheet.
As per FBref, he ranks among the top 14% of midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues for rate of non-penalty goals, the top 12% for touches in the attacking box, and the top 14% for progressive passes received – illustrating his prowess as an offensive outlet from the centre, bursting forward to join the attack when the opportunity arises.
Should he join the fold at Villa Park, the “monster” – as hailed by American journalist Wes Rucker – could forge an emboldening partnership with the industrious John McGinn, who has chalked up 166 displays for Aston Villa since his move from Scottish outfit Hibernian in 2018.
This season in the Premier League, McGinn has averaged 2.2 tackles per match and won 58% of his total duels, and is vital in breaking the play and providing respite for the backline in the face of adversity; his all-encompassing work in the centre would allow McKennie to flourish.
While the 52-cap Scot has created four big chances this season, his work from a slightly deeper deployment would allow McKennie the freedom to roam, and a formidable new duo could indeed dazzle at the heart of an aspiring and blossoming team.
Whether the assiduous American decides to take a step down from European football and serve as a centrepiece in Emery’s ambitious schemes is still up for debate, but the perseverance that the Spaniard is showing in his pursuit could swing the odds in his favour, especially given the recent upswing at Villa Park, Emery’s pedigree and Juventus’ own inner turmoil.