Leeds were bled dry by flop who cost £3m per goal contribution
Leeds United put plenty of measures in place to aid in their pursuit of retaining Premier League status last term, but in the end, their efforts proved frivolous. They dropped into the Championship like a stone, with the effects set to be long-lasting.
It seems that the hierarchy was more intent on altering the playing squad rather than looking towards the management staff, as Jesse Marsch was only dismissed in February, leaving Javi Gracia and Sam Allardyce little chance to fix the mess he had created.
What made the timing of his sacking so ludicrous was that the Whites had handed the American tactician both of the transfer windows from that season, first allowing him to unload untold riches in the summer before he broke their club record transfer in January.
Much of the blame must fall on his shoulders for the failures of that year, with his combination with Victor Orta providing some of the worst footballing decisions in the club’s recent history.
That’s not to suggest that the players were completely free of blame though, with a selection of the squad certainly downing tools despite their chances of survival remaining alive until the final game of the campaign. It is a testament to the lack of commitment shown to the club that 15 players departed this summer, with Daniel Farke having navigated the perilous window well.
Who performed well for Leeds United last season?
In a year where it felt like nobody really stood out, there were a few key players who did hold their own despite the tough season endured.
Tyler Adams was one such name, whose 6.98 average match rating, as per Sofascore, made him the highest-rated player of those who made five or more starts.
Rodrigo was another who shone, as his 13 league strikes offered a sole attacking impetus as they struggled to keep the ball out of their own net.
However, given the manner of the term, it is more pertinent to outline those who did not perform for Marsch, Gracia and Allardyce. One such name that shoots to mind is Weston McKennie, who was brought in by the former in what many assumed to be a rather shrewd piece of business.
In fact, pundit Tony Dorigo even billed the USA international for instant success: “With Klichy [Mateusz Klich] going, the [Weston] McKennie move is just perfect because we need that box-to-box player. We [Leeds] were linked with various people but McKennie was the one that I wanted and I am delighted that we have got him because I have seen a lot of him at Juventus and I know exactly what he can do”.
Despite that, the 25-year-old swiftly proved the former Whites man wrong, with his anonymous performances becoming a regular occurrence in Yorkshire. He would only manage a 6.67 average rating, mustering just one assist and failing to score across 19 appearances, via Sofascore.
What made such a lack of offensive impetus even worse is how he branded himself upon joining: “The eight role, box-to-box, trying to create plays, get back defensively. I like to have the freedom to attack and defend.”
However, despite the platform that his defensive compatriot Adams offered, he seldom made his mark on any league fixture before leaving upon the expiry of his loan. Former Aston Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor had sought to emphasise his distaste with his showings way before his departure though: “I’d tell them not to come back to pre-season. Koch, Struijk, Ayling, Firpo, Kristensen – they’re not good enough.
“McKennie as well, I don’t know how he got a game for Juventus – because he’s terrible.”
What was Weston McKennie’s wage at Leeds United?
Joining from a club the size of Juventus, McKennie was always likely to command a hefty salary even if it was only for a six-month period. After all, any fee expended would have been more than worth it had he spearheaded their survival push.
Given he did not, arguably failing to have any impact at all, his £75k-per-week wage thus made for a terrible piece of business.
That meant that, from wages alone, the Yorkshire outfit was forced to pay the underwhelming dud £2m. That’s without mentioning the £1m loan fee that they gave to the Turin outfit, as if to exacerbate this torrid deal.
Therefore, the club actually ended up paying a total of £3m for the solitary goal contribution he offered.
How much has Weston McKennie earned in his career so far?
Having now bounced around Europe for the bulk of his career, despite first gaining a reputation with FC Dallas, it was FC Schalke of the Bundesliga who first handed McKennie his chance to shine in one of the top leagues.
Swiftly turning into an integral player for the German side, he was sufficiently remunerated for these actions.
Then, a move to Italian giants Juventus saw his wages soar further, only adding to his total career earnings. Therefore, across spells with Leeds and the two aforementioned outfits, he has accumulated €14.96m (£12.8m).
When does Weston McKennie’s contract expire?
Given his tenure at Elland Road was only a loan deal, his contract with the Whites expired at the start of last summer. Had they stayed up though, there was an option within the contract that would have allowed them to purchase him for £30m.
Fortunately, this was not one they had to exercise, especially after the scathing criticism aimed by journalist Giancarlo Padovan: “I think he hurts wherever he plays. The facts are there to prove it. He comes from a very disappointing experience in England.”
Having since returned to Juventus, actually starting the Serie A season relatively well, it remains to be seen whether he will be offered a new deal given his current one is due to come to an end in 2025.
Did Weston McKennie deserve to earn that much?
For what he provided during his tenure at Leeds, it is fair to say that McKennie absolutely did not deserve to earn nearly as much as he did.
However, given his current performances for the Old Lady, perhaps he is good value for his current deal in Turin.
After all, his 7.23 average rating marks the seventh-highest within his squad, maintaining 0.7 key passes and 2.3 tackles per game, via Sofascore.
He has since admitted that his return to the club has reignited his desire to prove people wrong, as he told a recent press conference: “Coming back to Juventus wasn’t easy. I left the club at a time of crisis, I guess you could say. And so coming back I felt like I started back at square zero, but that is a challenge I’m always up for, a challenge that I think I needed at this time in my career to kind of prove to people that I still have it.”
It is fair to say that his current form is certainly showcasing that, likely leaving Leeds fans to question where those displays were when they needed him most.
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