By Daniel Lewis

15th Sep, 2023 | 8:10pm

Weston McKennie makes admission over failed Leeds United loan after returning to Juventus

Weston McKennie has admitted part of the reason he struggled to make an impact during his time on loan with Leeds United was due to a lack of fitness.

The United States international made 19 Premier League appearances for the Whites in the second half of last season and was unable to help them avoid relegation.

McKennie, who is now back at Juventus, opened up on the other factors that contributed to his disappointing spell at Elland Road on The American Dream podcast [14 September, 29:38] with former goalkeeper Tim Howard.

“I’m not one to make excuses at all. Honestly, I don’t think my physical fitness was the best because I was so used to being at Juventus and playing every three days,” he said.

“Game fitness is way different to training fitness for me. I become game fit by playing games, and I can’t replicate that in training. Playing one game a week, I didn’t feel I was in the best physical shape in terms of being able to last a 90-minute game.

“It didn’t help that when I got there, I went there because of Jesse Marsch, then two weeks later he’s sacked. I had four different managers in six months. One of my coaches, I honestly don’t think he knew who I was.

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“I was used outside the box for corner kicks, but 85% of my career goals have been inside the box off set-pieces, crosses and stuff. Then Tyler [Adams] got injured, which forced my to play the number six role, which I don’t see myself as – I prefer to attack than defend.”

Not-so-perfect fit

There were high hopes when McKennie arrived in West Yorkshire late in the January window, but as the midfielder himself accepts, he was unable to live up to the hype – or anywhere near it.

Described as a “perfect fit” for Leeds by Marsch, the American coach’s departure soon after McKennie arrived did little to help the 25-year-old settle into life at a new club.

McKennie would then go on to play under Michael Skubala, Javi Gracia and Sam Allardyce in a disastrous campaign for United.

Fortunately for Leeds, there was not an obligation-to-buy clause in his loan deal, meaning they could draw a line under the disappointing move.

The former Schalke player is now back at Juve and has played a part in all three of their Serie A matches so far this season in what has been a bright start for the Bianconeri.

Even if McKennie does get his career fully back on track in Italy, he will not be remembered fondly at Elland Road for his part in last term’s relegation.

Some transfers just do not work out, this being a perfect example.

In other Leeds United news, an unnamed agent has been left baffled by one particular transfer at Elland Road this summer.