Tottenham Hotspur flirted with signing midfielder Weston McKennie for much of the first half of the Premier League season, eventually deciding against the move in January. McKennie, an American national on loan from Italian football giant Juventus, ended up signing with Leeds United after Tottenham couldn’t bring themselves to move on from their incumbent midfielders to make space for him on the depth chart. As the team stagnated down the stretch (punctuated by a 3-1 blown lead against bottom-feeding Southampton that prompted manager Antonio Conte to bail out on the team), Hotspur is sure to face some turnover this offseason, and with it, a renewed opportunity to give McKennie another look (although the picture could change as Tottenham finds their next manager, depending what sort of identity their soon-to-be-determiner head man wants for the club.
Tottenham will get their first look at what could have been in their last match of the season, as they’re slated to face off against Leeds United (and McKennie) on May 28.
Before that happens, though, the Hotspur are slated to face off against Brentford F.C., where they’re listed as a heavy favorite, at or around -115 at a handful of sports betting sites. Odds can vary dramatically from sportsbook to sportsbook (as can the promotions and bonuses offered) so be sure to shop around first if you think you have a winning bet to lock in the best possible odds.
While Tottenham is firmly in the middle of the pack, too far out of the picture to kick it up a notch and play for a championship, but simultaneously not bad enough to fear relegation, the picture is quite different for the footballers from Elland Road. The Whites sit with a paltry 31 points with two matches to go in the season, good for the No. 18 spot: they’ll need to pass at least one team ahead of them in the standings while avoiding letting any other team surpass them.
They’re right in Everton’s hip pocket, just one point behind them in the standings. Their -25 goal differential is one tally worse than Everton’s as well, so they’ll need to draw even with them there as well as in the standings if they want to avoid relegation based on a tiebreaker: the second tiebreaker, their number of goals scored, falls promptly in the Whites favor as they’ve scored 14 more than Everton throughout the season.
Reports are circling that it’ll be nearly impossible for Leeds United to retain McKennie should they get relegated to the Championship level: with a price tag approaching $30 million and a player option for next season, Leeds wouldn’t be able to float that at the second tier (and McKennie is sure to receive interest elsewhere, helping to pull him out of the fold). As such, Hotspur could have a second chance at acquiring McKennie this off-season, even though they decided against it during the first go-around. Here’s a look at what McKennie brings to the table should Tottenham consider making another pass at him.
McKennie’s greatest strength is his defensive ability: while he’s an opportunistic attacker, he’s better suited to playing back, stealing the ball away, and keying a rally (rather than being the one to finish it with a shot on goal).
McKennie is a capable (if not prolific) goal scorer, notching 13 goals for Juventus in 96 appearances. He’s displayed a knack for scoring in the biggest moments, so while he may not score in bunches, he’s sure to do so in the game’s biggest moments: something to watch as Leeds United tries to avoid relegation (and in doing so, to retain McKennie for next season).
He struggled with injuries during the 2021-22 season, which also hampered his ability to take shots on the net. McKennie hasn’t taken to the Premier League yet, held without any goals or assists across 1,295 minutes and 17 matches played to begin his professional career in England. That’s an average of more than 76 minutes per match, so it’s not for lack of trying (or playing time) that he hadn’t been able to find the net.
It doesn’t help, of course, that he’s on a terrible team: a streaky scorer to begin with, a lack of help makes it difficult for him to be a huge offensive weapon, especially as a midfielder who is expected to contribute on defense as well. When the ball is always on his team’s side of the pitch, it won’t be easy to turn upfield and try for a scoring push.
Should McKennie and Leeds end up parting ways, a change of scenery could help him revitalize his career.