Whirlwind Wes: U.S.’s McKennie On Navigating Juventus Rumors And Keeping His Place

The Italian international takes a break at home during the summer to see his Serie A club, which is currently undergoing a transition phase, but still sees him as an important part of the squad for the coming campaign.

Those who follow the exuberant U.S. midfielder will not be surprised that McKennie vacations like a man who can't sit still. In the wake of one of the most challenging seasons of his career, he had only three weeks off ahead of a campaign that could prove crucial. Instead of rest, restlessness reigned.

Traveling was my hobby. My life was like that of a young person. The training was intense and I got to see my family a lot. The summer was over," he said.

A few of his destinations include Jamaica, Miami, his hometown of Dallas, Turks & Caicos, Toronto, Monaco, and Portugal. I will be back in three weeks.

The player told Sports Illustrated this week, "I visited a lot of places.".

His immediate future will be determined by how much movement he makes.

The 24-year-old McKennie will start his third season at Juventus next month and is part of a squad scheduled to face Chivas de Guadalajara (Friday in Las Vegas), Barcelona (July 26 in Dallas) and Real Madrid (July 30 in Los Angeles). For both club and player, Juve's first U.S. tour since 2018 comes at an awkward time. As manager Massimiliano Allegri overhauls his squad, McKennie has been subject to multiple transfer rumors as the Bianconeri seek to rebound from their first trophyless season since 2010–11.

McKennie is looking forward to playing next Tuesday at the Cotton Bowl. He'll be playing in Dallas for the first time.

He said that his entire crew would be attending.

The 30-year-old said he accepts the fact that uncertainty and movement are part of life at the top of soccer, particularly following reported links in recent months to Tottenham Hotspur, Roma, West Ham United and Atlético Madrid. Another three years are left on McKennie's contract.

He noticed soccer was a big business when he was leaving [FC] Dallas. It doesn't have any real meaning for me. If you don't perform at these big clubs, they can go out and anyone wants to play for them, so you develop this hunger and competitiveness. You can be snatched away with a snap of the finger."

Among the players leaving Juventus this summer are Giorgio Chiellini, Alvaro Morata, Federico Bernardeschi, Paulo Dybala, and Matthijs de Ligt. Newcomers this season include Paul Pogba, Angel Di Mar*a, and Gleison Bremer, a Brazilian defender.

McKennie continued, "The world is definitely dog-eat-dog.". He said, "Yo, you and I are friends and we are cool and everything, but when you're on the field, it's like, 'You try to take my position, I try to take yours.' It's just the way it is.". Nothing is hateful about it. Respect is a big deal."

During his two-year sabbatical after leading Juventus to five consecutive Serie A titles and two Champions League finals, Allegri expressed his respect for McKennie. 2021–22 were rollercoaster years for the midfielder. After being dismissed from the U.S. national team during the September World Cup qualifying window, he rebounded with a couple of goals in October before being injured.Despite a promising start to the season, he was sidelined until the end of the Serie A season due to a foot injury. The goalkeeper revealed on a Canal+ podcast that McKennie attended training an hour late during June's national team camp because he misread a schedule (that revelation came from goalkeeper Wojciech Szcz*sny's Canal+ show). The 29 appearances McKennie made during the campaign resulted in four goals.

“McKennie will be able to play a great season at Juventus this year,” Allegri said a few weeks ago. Allegri also said that McKenny is likely one of the best American players playing in Europe. Juve needs him to keep showing the high levels he has shown so far."

He added: "I think with any player in general, it's not over until it's over." Allegri's earlier comments helped McKennie's confidence. The transfer market is unpredictable, so anything can happen. I'm even surprised sometimes."

We will keep the window open until August. Sassuolo are Juventus' opponents in the opening match of the Serie A season.

Right now I might be set where I am, but two weeks from now I could be having a lousy preseason and they say, 'We can't find you a Juventus player anymore,'" McKennie said. As far as things like that are concerned, I am very calm. It's my pride to always be able to say I give 100%, and I know that's what I am known for. As a result, I am not concerned about whether I will perform well or not."

His own standards are the ones he holds himself to.

It's not that much about a transfer or anything like that, but all players want to train well and put their best foot forward. You want to play more than anything else. Minutes are important to players. Playing is what you want. Competing is important to you. Having an impact on winning games is what you want to feel like a part of," McKennie said.

The best I can do is always put my best foot forward. In addition, that doesn't guarantee my future at Juventus. The reason is that I simply want to win. "I want to demonstrate my abilities."

There has been something unfortunate about McKennie's timing. The Bianconeri's dominance in Turin was waning at the time when he arrived. After nine years as Serie A champions (McKennie played 90 minutes), Pirlo was fired despite beating Atalanta in the Coppa Italia final. Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Manchester three months later. In the Champions League's round of 16, Juventus lost to Villarreal after finishing fourth in Serie A, 16 points out of first.

Allegri said Thursday that winning this year was his duty.

Despite coming here this season, McKennie said the vibe has been the same since he arrived at Juventus. Our mentality is one of winning. Playing games is all about winning. The season should also be a winner for us. Our daily training sessions are intense and we push ourselves every day. Everyone goes into it with the mentality to win, so I'm sure every other club is training with intensity. The situation is a little different here, though. The feeling I get is that we are striving to return to where we belong.

 Players' energy and confidence can be eroded by McKennie's pressure, expectations at Juventus, and his "dog-eat-dog" world. Alternatively, they can be channeled to his advantage. The fate of Juventus' 2022–23 World Cup will be determined long before McKennie's World Cup debut. On Nov. 21, the U.S. will play Wales in the opening game of its World Cup campaign, and McKennie won't be the only American who's relocated recently or spent the summer under speculation. There has been a lot going on lately. There is a constant churn and a bright spotlight. This week, McKennie stated that he intends to weaponize it with his compatriots.