Southampton are reportedly leading a group of five teams in the race to sign Schalke 04 midfielder Weston McKennie this summer.
According to a report from the Daily Express, Saints are ahead of Leicester, Wolves, Newcastle and Everton and are “favourites” to bring McKennie to the Premier League before the beginning of the 2020/21 season.
It is clear that the USA international is being targeted as a replacement for the outgoing Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and would certainly be able to play a similar role in Ralph Hasenhuttl’s 4-2-2-2 system.
At just 21, he is also a player of great potential and could be one to blossom at St Mary’s under the manager’s guidance.
McKennie was a key presence for Schalke in the 2019/20 season and started 26 of the 32 games he was available for in all competitions. A 12th-placed finish for David Wagner’s side has prompted the midfielder to look for a move away though.
Looking at the list of clubs chasing him, it appears that a move to England could soon become a reality.
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Saints will need to beat the European football of Leicester City and strong Premier League competitors in Wolves to his signature. Everton and Newcastle may also provide a challenge depending on how McKennie sees his options opening up.
Statictics from the 2019/20 campaigns of both McKennie and Hojbjerg show that there are many similarities between the two.
Their passing success rates are 80% and 78% respectively, whilst they also make a similar amount of interceptions and clearances when compared with each other.
Hojbjerg has been superior in the tackles department with 2.4 per game to McKennie’s 1.4, but the Dane appears to have had more time on the ball than the American with an average of 55 passes each match to 36.
It is fair to say that McKennie is not the finished article by any means just yet. He will be moving to an upwardly mobile team in Saints if he chooses them and will need to develop further.
However, that potential for him to develop towards is exactly why Saints and Ralph Hasenhuttl will want to sign him and why he is such an exciting prospect for American “soccer”.