Little Elm’s McKennie signs with Juventus

FC Dallas academy graduate Weston McKennie has officially joined Italian giants Juventus.

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Weston McKennie on the ball in an FC Dallas academy match against Real Salt Lake (FC Dallas Communications)

Andrea Pirlo’s first signing as Juventus manager is initially a season-long McKennie loan from Schalke 04 worth $3.5m. Juve has an option to buy for a further $21.5m.

McKennie will become the first American player to represent the Old Lady at the senior level, and only the fifth American to play in Serie A.

FC Dallas head coach Luchi Gonzalez played a role in McKennie’s development as one of his coaches in the FC Dallas academy. The pair, along with fellow US Men’s National Team player Reggie Cannon, won the USSDA U15/16 National Championship in 2015 followed by the U17/18 title a year later. McKennie scored the opening goal in the 2015 final, but was already on the verge of signing with Schalke by the time of the 2016 final.

“That’s fantastic news for for Weston,” said Gonzalez on a Friday media call. “It’s a great example of a player that has a talent and came from a great family that supported him in that talent. He played six, seven years in our academy and was a great human, a great leader, a great talent.”

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The FC Dallas U-15/16 team wins the USSDA National Championship (FC Dallas Communications)

FC Dallas desperately tried to get McKennie signed up as a Homegrown Player, but they couldn’t compete with the financial package or the exposure that the Bundesliga club offered.

After a brief run with Schalke’s U-19 side, McKennie made his Bundesliga debut in the final game of the 2016/17 season. Three years, 90 appearances, and a strong run with the US Men’s National Team later, Premier League interest came with Newcastle and Everton linked with McKennie.

Ultimately it was Juve that came calling shortly after winning their ninth consecutive Scudetto and appointing Pirlo to replace Maurizio Sarri.

While Juventus hasn’t been overly generous with young players, it’s thought that the 22-year-old can stake a claim in a midfield that lacked stability under Sarri.

As McKennie stepped onto the tarmac in Turin, a familiar face flanked him in former Dallas Burn defender Cory Gibbs. Gibbs represents a number of up and coming American talents, having also helped Chris Richards secure a move from FC Dallas to Bayern Munich, and DC United youngster Bryang Kayo to Wolfsburg.

McKennie returned to North Texas during the brief winter break to see family and stop by his old stomping ground. Whatever happens, he’ll have the backing of his former club.

“It’s exciting, he’s going to continue to develop, be challenged at different levels, and represent our country so and who knows where he ends up,” said Gonzalez. “If he comes back to MLS one day maybe it’s with FC Dallas! I just saw him about a month ago when he was on a on a short break, he came by and said hi. It was great to see him, we’re just really proud and he’s always going to be a member of our family.”

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