By George Overhill

15th Mar, 2023 | 8:10pm

Weston McKennie won't stay at Leeds United, could be set for swap deal for Aston Villa keeper Emi Martinez

Weston McKennie is not set to stay at Leeds United and could instead be included in a swap deal with Aston Villa, according to Tutto Sport.

The American midfielder arrived at the end of the January transfer window to link up with USMNT captain Tyler Adams and has featured in every Premier League game since.

But Villa boss Unai Emery is reportedly “crazy” about him and with Juventus hoping to sign €30million-rated [£26.2million] World Cup winner Emi Martinez the on-loan Whites player could now be included in a swap deal for the Argentine.

The conditions in McKennie’s loan deal at Elland Road for a permanent move were thought to be easily achievable, and largely hinge on Leeds United avoiding relegation.

A £29million fee is due at the end of the season if he does make the switch [Fabrizio Romano, 30 January], but Juventus are also interested in Willy Gnonto and the Italian international has been mooted for inclusion to bring the price down [Calcio Mercato Web, 13 March].

What now?

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Villa were in for McKennie in the January window and he ended up with his American teammates in West Yorkshire anyway, so the ball is surely now in Leeds’ court as to whether he remains.

Unless there is a growing expectation that Javi Gracia is not going to be able to steer the Whites to Premier League safety the swap scenario for Martinez seems unlikely.

Should Gracia suddenly freeze him out then perhaps the situation by the end of the season will be different, but he has been heavily involved in the relegation battle so far.

The club needs to ensure they aren’t relegated to the Championship for a long list of reasons, and keeping the 24-year-old isn’t that close to the top.

But unlikely as this seems, it was under Jesse Marsch that the former Schalke player was brought in, and Gracia dropped him to the bench for the 2-2 with Brighton on Saturday (11 March).

Since the Spaniard isn’t even guaranteed past the summer whether the club stays up or not there is enough turnover that perhaps the plans of January are different come May.

It would still be a surprise to see McKennie run out at Villa Park next season as there are so many moving parts before then, but this is perhaps the first indication that a move that appeared to be a winter coup isn’t as certain as it was.

In other Leeds United news, an ominous transfer update has emerged that appears to have thrown the club’s plans into doubt.

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