Aston Villa have been linked with a move for American international Weston McKennie , and with "barely anyone else in for him", it could prove to be a "masterstroke" by
Unai Emery , claims transfer insider Dean Jones.

Is Weston McKennie joining Aston Villa?

The last nine months at Villa Park have been an absolute whirlwind for both fans and players.

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Where the team once looked destined for yet another agonising relegation scrap under the guidance of Steven Gerrard, the arrival of Spanish tactician Emery completely altered the club's course for the second half of the season.

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Where the side were once fighting tooth and nail to avoid the drop, they were now duking it out with Brighton & Hove Albion, Tottenham Hotspur, and Brentford for European football, ultimately qualifying for the Conference League.

With this significant turnaround in fortunes and the widely respected Emery at the helm, the club started to be linked with higher-profile players.

The signing of Youri Tielemans on a free was considered a coup, considering he was heavily linked to Arsenal for much of the last year.

Still, the recent signing of Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres represents an undeniable increase in the quality of players the West Midlands side have been able to attract previously, as he has been linked to sides like Spurs, Manchester United, and Bayern Munich.

That said, the name most recently touted for a move to Villa Park is perhaps one the British public would be less enthused about, American midfielder McKennie.

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The Juventus player spent half of last season on a disastrous loan to Leeds United that ultimately saw the club relegated, but that hasn't deterred Villa from being interested in the player, per Calciomercato.

The Italian publication reported that whilst the Turin side previously valued their American import at around €40m (£34m), his poor performances over the last year or so mean they would likely ask for less, with Football Transfers valuing him at around £18m.

What has Jones said about Weston McKennie and Aston Villa?

Jones recognised that the general audience of the Premier League might have a lower opinion of McKennie, but believes his overall quality across his career could make a decision to sign him something of a "masterstroke" from Villa.

Speaking to GIVEMESPORT, he said: "I don't think McKennie would be a misstep in the market for Unai Emery, but he could actually be a masterstroke. Barely anyone else is in for him right now.

"In England, yeah, he's been tarnished a bit by that loan. I'd say that's more because he couldn't get into his groove and became a victim in a way that their season curtailed.

"He's such a good player in the right setup. I think he could be a big success in the Premier League. I know that he's still hungry to make it work and would certainly have another shot at it if he could."

How good is Weston McKennie?

There is no denying that the six months the Fort Lewis-born dynamo spent in Yorkshire last season have seriously damaged his reputation, especially amongst Premier League fans, but when looking at his whole body of work, it is easy to see that period for what it was, a blip.

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When looking at his seasons previously, it's easy to see that he has the quality required to make a positive impact at Aston Villa. In the 2021/22 Serie A season, he averaged a rating of 6.73; in the season before that, he averaged a rating of 6.68 per WhoScored.

His underlying numbers, if not spectacular, show he would be a competent player in a structured side akin to what Emery has created.

According to FBref, who compare players in a similar position across Europe's top five leagues, he sits in the top 23% for blocks, the top 26% for clearances and aerial duals won, and the top 29% for progressive passes received, all per 90.

There were also moments of brilliance for the 24-year-old in his brief stint with Leeds, particularly his performance in the game against Fulham, a performance which led Phil Hay of The Athletic to say:

"Impressed with McKennie's movement and interplay so far tonight. Providing an option constantly."

Should Villa get the opportunity to sign McKennie for just £18m, they should certainly take the risk; if he can get back to his best, he would be a real asset to the Villain's campaign in Europe and the league next year.