McKinney … the rock of Pirlo and the symbol of the new generation of Juventus

MILAN – The talented American midfielder Weston McKinney is a symbol of a new generation coming in the sky of Juventus, the Italian league champion for the last nine years, along with Swedish promising Diane Koloshevsky, Federico Chiesa and Dutch Matisse de Ligt.
McKinney, who was born in Texas and aged 22, became the first player from the United States to defend the colors of the Turin giants when he arrived from German club Schalke 04 last summer on loan.
Coach Andrea Pirlo hailed the young American international as a “rock”, in a difficult period for the Italian champions, with the ongoing injury crisis hitting their ranks.
Juventus is counting on McKinney today, Tuesday, when Porto receives the Portuguese in the second leg of the Champions League final price, with the aim of compensating for his 1-2 first-leg loss.
And Chiesa (23 years) had restored hope to the “old lady” team in the first leg when he scored his only goal in the 82nd minute, and therefore coach Pirlo’s men need to win with one or more goals to continue their journey in the ancient continental competition that they are seeking for the title for the third time in their history and the first. Since 1996, he has avoided leaving the final price for the second consecutive time.
McKinney greatly contributed to Juventus’ end to the group stage in the lead against Barcelona, ​​by scoring the second goal against the Catalan team (3-0) in the last sixth round at Camp Nou last December, thus revenge for the 0-2 loss in Turin in the second round, and his team snatched the lead by direct confrontation difference.
It was the second goal in the prestigious continental competition for McKinney after he scored a goal in the colors of Schalke against Lokomotiv Moscow (1-0) in the Russian capital in the second round of the group stage of the 2018-2019 season.
McKinney starred with the Old Lady’s team since joining its ranks, which prompted the Italian champion last Wednesday to activate the clause of his purchase from the German club and contracted with him until 2025 for 18.5 million euros.
“We chose him for his qualities, and we followed him,” Pirlo said, adding, “Now that he was bought immediately, he could not believe it arrived, it is only a starting point.” If he thinks that he has reached the top, he has made a mistake, and therefore he is not on the right path.
There have only been a few American players who have made it to the Italian league over the years, such as Michael Bradley in Chievo and Roma, Armando Frigo in Fiorentina and Alexei Lalas in Padua.
“I grew up watching these players, adoring them and playing with them in video games, and now they are your teammates, it’s a dream come true,” McKinney said of playing alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Despite the troublesome infections and contracting the Coronavirus last October, McKinney remained a reliable choice for the Italian champions, as he scored five goals in 32 matches.
Pirlo said after the loss to Porto, which the American played mainly until the 63rd minute when he was replaced by Spanish striker Alvaro Morata, “Makeni is not at his top 100 percent, and he has a thigh problem, but he is a rock and bear playing despite the injury because we did not have many players available.” .
The loss in Portugal came four days after they fell 0-1 to hosts Napoli in the league. Since then, Juventus has returned to the right track in the league by winning 10 points out of a possible 12, and strengthened its position in third place by beating Lazio 3-1 on Saturday with a postponed match against Napoli, which he will play on 17 March.
McKinney’s achievements with his club and his country, who scored the fastest hat-trick in American football history, with three goals in 13 minutes against Cuba (7-0) in the CONCACAF Nations League in 2019, which greatly contributed to his selection of the best American footballer for the year 2020.
At the time, McKinney told former US national team captain Carlos Bocanegra upon hearing that he had won the award: “This is a big thing. I remember when I was in our under-17 team and the officials didn’t think at the time about my participation in the U-17 World Cup or the qualifiers,” adding, “Getting to this. The point is, it is a long and long journey for sure. ”
McKinney spent part of his childhood in Germany, where his father worked with the US Air Force at Ramstein, near Kaiserslautern.
He joined Germany’s FC Phoenix Uterbach in 2004. On his return to the United States, McKinney played for FC Dallas’s youth team for seven years before moving to Schalke 04 in 2016.
McKinney has made 91 appearances for Schalke in the German Bundesliga, scoring five goals.
After taking over the Juventus technical department to succeed Maurizio Sarri, after the disappointment of the Champions League last season, Pirlo was keen to include many young talents, led by McKinney and Barcelona’s international midfielder Arthur (24 years), at the expense of veteran Bosnian Miralem Pjanic, Argentine Gonzalo Higuain and French Belize Matuidi.
He signed with Koloshevsky (20 years) from Parma, and with Chiesa (23 years) on loan from Fiorentina, while Murata (28 years) returned to Juventus, where he played with Pirlo from 2014-2016.
Juventus scored 36 goals in all competitions thanks to the new signings: Morata scored 16 goals, including six in the Champions League competition, Kiza nine goals, Makeni five goals and the same for Koloshevsky, Arthur one goal.
“Words cannot describe the feeling that you have finally managed to lift the cup,” McKinney said upon winning his first title with Juventus when he won the Italian Super Cup on January 20 at the expense of Napoli (2-0). It is the first of many titles ”. – (AFP)

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