Blues boss Graham Potter is eyeing a lunge for McKennie, who has been a central figure in a resurgent Juventus team this season that currently perches in third place in the Italian Serie A with four wins from their past five matches.
According to Corriere dello Sport, Aston Villa, who have been heavily interested in the 24-year-old, have been dealt a blow as the player wishes to hold out until Chelsea act on their intrigue, with Tottenham Hotspur and Borussia Dortmund also reported to view a deal feasible this month.
And with Calciomercato previously stating the Old Lady value their dynamic midfield presence at €30m (£26m), Stamford Bridge’s affluent owner might be required to dig deeper into his pockets in order to craft a squad capable of matching his ambitious schemes.
Having already signed Mykhaylo Mudryk for £88.5m from Shakhtar Donetsk and Joao Felix on a £9.7m loan deal until the end of the term from Atletico Madrid, Chelsea are now interested in providing fortification to the central ranks to steer the club back in the right direction after a woeful campaign thus far.
Chelsea have been knocked out of both the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup to the hand of Manchester City, and currently languish in tenth place in the Premier League after 19 matches despite clinching victory against Crystal Palace last time out.
In order to stabilise the ship, the club must return to their roots and re-establish stability, grit and tenacity in their endeavours, both offensively and defensively, and the robust presence that is McKennie fits the bill.
His versatility and physicality should allow him to take to English football like a duck to water, with his exploits in Italy and the Champions League a telling indication of his calibre.
Over the entirety of his career, the “monster” – as lauded by CBS Sports reporter Wes Rucker – has averaged 1.2 tackles, 1.1 interceptions and 1.1 clearances, illustrating his defensive prowess and a consistency in his efforts to repel attacks and recycle possession, as per Whoscored.
And over the past year, he ranks among the top 14% of midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues for rate of non-penalty goals, the top 11% for touches in the offensive box and the top 14% for progressive passes received, which demonstrates his capability of an offensive outlet from the centre.
His dynamic skills could make him a good fit to emulate Ramires’ success at Stamford Bridge, with the Brazilian midfielder making 251 appearances for the west London outfit during his illustrious stay, winning the Premier League and the Champions League.
Since Whoscored started recording statistics with consistency in 2010, Ramires chalked up an impressive average of 2.5 tackles, 1.3 interceptions and 0.9 clearances, numbers similar to that of the American. Indeed, McKennie could well bask in similar success by following this particular blueprint.
As such, Chelsea must move for the ace swiftly, beating rivals to his signature and strengthening the foundation of their new system; the club’s fortunes this season have been full of woe, but with the “extraordinary” McKennie’s introduction – as once hailed by Schalke head coach Domenico Tedesco – a new dawn could finally offer some sense of light.