Weston McKennie becomes 1st American player at Juventus

TURIN, Italy (AP) — It’s official: Midfielder Weston McKennie has become the first American player at Juventus.

The nine-time defending Serie A champion posted photos of McKennie’s arrival in Turin on Thursday ahead of the expected loan from German club Schalke.

Late Saturday, Juventus confirmed the move and said the American “enjoys a belated birthday present with a move to the Bianconeri.” McKennie’s 22nd birthday was Friday.

It added: “Juventus Football Club announces that an agreement with FC GelsenkirchenSchalke for the temporary acquisition, until 30 June 2021, of the registration rights of the player Weston McKennie has been finalized for a consideration of 4.5 million euros ($5.35 million).”

The deal requires Juventus to purchase McKennie’s full rights at the end of the season for 18.5 million euros ($22 million), although the fee could reach 25.5 million euros ($30 million) with bonuses.

McKennie can play any of the midfield positions, which makes him a flexible option for new Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo. McKennie started playing soccer while spending part of his childhood in Germany.

At Juventus, McKennie will team with international stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini.

“You grow up watching these players and you grow up idolizing them and playing with them on video games and then you end up saying that you’re a teammate now,” McKennie said. “So it’s definitely a dream come true.”

Other American-born players in Serie A have included Alexi Lalas, Giuseppe Rossi, Michael Bradley and Oguchi Onyewu.

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