As Weston McKennie headed home Juve’s match winner during their weekend encounter with Bologna, the American dashed off towards the side-line and proceeded to wave an imaginary wand in celebration towards the camera.
The Texan would later reveal himself to be a huge Harry Potter fan, the inspiration behind his celebration and lighting bolt tattoo on his finger.
McKennie’s wizardry in Bologna’s box will have come as no surprise to Juventini, who have quickly fallen under Weston’s spell following his summer arrival from Schalke.
The midfield player has brought joy and enthusiasm to The Old Lady. His infectious personality and energetic displays have established him not only as a fans favourite, but also as a pivotal part of Andrea Pirlo’s plans.
So far this season, the former FC Dallas player has provided two assists and found the net on four occasions, with his goal contributions coming at key moments.
McKennie’s first was an equaliser in the Turin derby with his team behind, that was followed by an acrobatic volley in Camp Nou against Barcelona, he then got Juve’s crucial third goal in the San Siro against Milan before adding Sunday’s header to his growing collection.
McKennie’s influence extends beyond his ability to support the attack with expertly timed runs into the oppositions 18-yard-box. He sets the teams momentum and keeps his foot on the gas, allowing Juve to stay on top of the game.
The 22-year-old is dynamic, physically capable of running intensely throughout 90 minutes and his aggressive approach makes him a menace when attempting to recover possession. McKennie’s versatility means he is a constant thorn in the side of the opposition.
Having spent three-years developing his trade in the Bundesliga, McKennie became the ideal recruit for a new look Juve under the guidance of Pirlo. ‘Il Maestro’s’ system requires adaptable players that can maintain a high tempo approach both in and out of possession.
The German top division is king of the European leagues with regards to pressing and transitions, equipping Mckennie for the demands of modern football at an elite club.
Mister Pirlo has found the ideal positon in his midfield the for ex-Schalke star. Deploying McKennie in a hybrid capacity where he adjusts between a defensive role in wide areas to an attacking number 10 when the Bianconeri have possession.
It is a tough task, but Weston has shown he is more than capable. His influence on the team is noticeable and that is magnified when McKennie is missing, the team is less functional without him.
He undoubtedly has areas to improve, namely with his passing but with a purchase option of €18.5million, McKennie is shaping up to be a fantastic piece of business for Juventus.
“McKennie is young and has so much room for improvement. We were the quickest one to sign him and we are happy he is part of the squad,” Pirlo said ahead of the Old Lady’s trip to Sampdoria where a win of the Bianconeri might be worth a bet online.
“He is a humble guy who always wants to improve, especially on a technical level. He needs to improve when he receives the ball, but he knows this is only a starting point,” the Bianconeri coach continued.
Mckennie is forming an intriguing partnership alongside Rodrigo Bentancur and another of the Italian champions new signings, Arthur.
The South-American duo have had indifferent campaigns thus far but the blend of all three players together has shown signs of promise. The lack of quality in the Bianconeri’s midfield department in recent years has been well documented, so any improvement in that area will give the Turin giants a lift.
If McKennie is Juve’s action man in the middle, Arthur – who is beginning to settle into his new environment – is the craftsman.
The Brazilian’s job is to control the speed of play through short accurate passes, manoeuvring the opposition as his team mates search to exploit the spaces available. Playing in a double pivot, Arthur works in rotation with Bentancur.
The Uruguayan provides balance and has the characterises to supply quality in possession but is also competitive without it, perhaps overly at times.
None of the aforementioned trio are individually amongst the best around. However, as a unit they complement each other, making La Vecchia Signora less predictable and harder to beat.
Especially with the positive effect McKennie has had in attacking areas. McKennie (22), Bentancur (23) and Arthur (24) form a young core and have plenty of development left in them.
If they can continue to improve as individuals and as a collective, it will be hugely beneficial to Pirlo and his attempts to raise Juve’s level, bringing his playing philosophy to life.