Weston McKennie admits Leeds United loan spell was "lowest career point"

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Weston McKennie is only two seasons removed from one of the toughest moments of his club career and the American midfielder opened up about it ahead of Copa America duty with the U.S. men’s national team.

McKennie earned his first taste of the English Premier League with Leeds United, joining Jesse Marsch’s squad on loan in January 2023. Joining up with fellow USMNT teammates Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson, McKennie was expected to make a big splash at Elland Road, however it turned out to be anything but that.

The Lilywhites were eventually relegated back to the English Football League Championship, a spot where they remain heading into the 2024-25 season. McKennie, Marsch and Adams have moved on from their time in Yorkshire while Aaronson remains as the lone American left with the club.

Despite having an experience of a lifetime with one of England’s most historic clubs, McKennie admitted the eventual frustration he endured in Leeds.

“My time at Leeds was probably one of my lower points, if not the lowest in my professional career,” McKennie said in an interview with The Athletic. “I always look at the positive because I was at Juventus, playing week in and week out, and maybe I developed a little bit of comfortability or complacency, knowing I was going to play on the weekend.

“By going to Leeds and having the performance that I had there and the way that it just turned out in general, four coaches in five months, just nothing going to plan or how I imagined it. When I went there, my head was more: ‘okay, I want to go here, perform very well, put up numbers, help the team stay up and then hopefully another Premier League team, top five, comes in and sees how well I’ve played and then they would buy me.'”

McKennie’s purchase option was not picked up by Leeds United, and ultimately, it ended up being the best decision for both parties. The Texas native delivered a career-best year with Juventus last season, logging 10 assists in 38 combined appearances, lifting the Coppa Italia, and helping the Old Lady register a top-four finish in Serie A.

McKennie now heads into international duty with both Aston Villa and Tottenham reportedly targeting him for a summer transfer away from Turin, knowing he remains in the final year of his Juventus contract.

Leeds finished in the top-six of the EFL Championship under Daniel Farke, but lost to Southampton 1-0 in the promotion playoff final at Wembley Stadium. They remain wavering in the second-tier, wondering when they will get back to the bright lights of the Premier League.

While the past moments were painful ones in McKennie’s career, the American will certainly feel on a much better note going into a busy summer schedule.

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