Southampton are eyeing a move for Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie in the summer transfer window. The American international has been with the German club since 2016, first joining their youth academy, before being called up to the senior team.
As per Sky Sports, the Saints have had discussions with Schalke over a £20 million deal to bring Weston McKennie to England. McKennie reportedly rejected a deal to sign with Hertha Berlin and wants to play in the Premier League. The 21-year-old midfielder is a United States international and has played 19 times for the national team, scoring 6 goals.
McKennie’s current deal with Schalke expires in 2024.
Weston McKennie: A top midfield option?
Southampton had to let go of their stalwart and captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who has joined Tottenham Hotspur. Hojbjerg was an influential player in the Saints midfield and will be missed in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s team. Weston McKennie – if he moves to Southampton – will be a like-for-like replacement for the former captain in the Southampton squad.
The 21-year-old midfielder is a powerful player, who uses his strength to dominate the play from box-to-box, influencing both attack and defence. McKennie’s natural position is in midfield, playing as a central midfielder or defensive midfielder, but he has also played as a centre-back.
In the 2019-20 Bundesliga season, the American averaged 1.4 tackles, 1.6 clearances, and 1.3 clearances per game. A neat passer, Weston McKennie likes to play short passes to keep the game ticking. The defensive midfielder is good in the air, averaging 2.3 headers per game, and he chips in with the odd goal.
The exit of Hojbjerg leaves a gaping hole in the Saints midfield, as his leadership, energy, power, and work-rate had a big influence on his former club. While McKennie is young and will take a while to get used to the Premier League, he is a player who has the traits to eventually have a big impact on the side.
McKennie could form a good partnership with James Ward-Prowse in midfield, allowing the Englishman to be a threat in attack with his passing, while the American could be tasked with taking care of the dirty work, something Hojbjerg managed to do with little fuss. The manager will not want to head into the new season with the bite missing in his side and will do well to lure the Bundesliga player to the Premier League.
McKennie would suit Ralph Hasenhuttl’s pressing game well, and he could grow under the guidance of the Austrian manager.