Photo by Eric Alonso/Getty Images

No-one expected Juventus to come calling for Weston McKennie in the 2020 summer transfer window – least of all the man himself. 

“The idea of coming to play here, to a club with a great history, it excited me!” the USA international told Juve’s website 13 months ago, barely able to contain his disbelief.  

“There was no need to convince me to come to Juventus, because being here is a dream that has become reality. 

“It’s a great honour. Having the opportunity to wear this shirt, representing my country and bringing young Americans closer to football makes me proud.”

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It was too soon, the cynics said, the rain pouring on McKennie’s parade.  

After all, the USA international had spent much of the previous nine months sliding down the Bundesliga table with Schalke, hardly ideal preparation for life at a club where success is demanded. 

Nevertheless, after joining on an initial loan deal in September 2020, Juventus triggered the option to buy in McKennie’s contract in July this year.

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Just to add to the narrative, McKennie was being linked with a different kind of club before Juventus completed one of the most surprising transfers of that summer.

According to the Birmingham Mail, the versatile midfielder was initially holding out for Aston Villa or Southampton – two proud English football institutions although hardly Champions League regulars.  

Photo by Filippo Alfero – Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

And, one year after becoming the first American player in Juventus’ history, the McKennie story is threatening to go full circle. The critics who questioned whether he was ready to make such a substantial leap up the footballing pyramid are now asking whether a step backwards would, in the short term at least, be beneficial to a player who has lost his way after an impressive start to life in Italy. 

According to The Sun, Juventus have told McKennie he’s free to leave in January and, surprise surprise, Aston Villa are at the front of the queue again. 

And, if McKennie knows what’s good for him, it’s an opportunity the Washington-born 23-year-old should grasp with both hands.

Villa may not be on a level with Juve yet but, in Dean Smith, they have a coach who has transformed Jack Grealish, Ollie Watkins, Matty Cash, Ezri Konsa and others into some of the Premier League’s best.

Photo by Daniele Badolato – Juventus FC/Juventus FC via Getty Images

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