Saturday, May 25, 2024

USMNT transfers: Weston McKennie wasn’t the only American who moved, or tried to, before the deadline

The transfer window is done and dusted but it has been quite a window for Americans on the move… or not. Weston McKennie has joined Leeds United from Juventus, Matthew Hoppe has moved to Hibernian on loan but Konrad de la Fuente’s deal broke down at the last second with a chance to move to Hull City on loan from Olympique Marseille falling apart. 

Internationally while this window was quieter than the summer, there were still notable additions that we’ll break down as well as stepping through De La Fuente’s fiasco:

Weston McKennie to Leeds United

Easily the marquee American on the move and arguably one of the biggest European transfers of any kind, McKennie is a big capture for Leeds United.  With the team only a point above the relegation zone, McKennie will provide Jesse Marsch with a significant tool to avoid relegation. Due to Juventus’ points deduction for improper financial dealings, it certainly makes sense that McKennie would want out and playing alongside friends at Leeds United was quite a proposition. McKennie will start alongside his national teammate Tyler Adams and while Brenden Aaronson may end up benched at times due to his arrival, the USMNT core is strong in West Yorkshire.

Despite familiarity with the team, it was still a surprise to see McKennie move to a bottom half English side but that speaks volumes about Marsch’s recruitment style. Not every manager could convince a player like McKennie that this is the right place for them and while it’s easier alongside American teammates, it’s still quite an addition for Leeds United. 

McKennie will improve their attack and his understanding with Adams will make passages of play crisper. With attacking talent coming into form around them, this is a move that should keep Leeds in the Premier League for another season starting their path back to European play. Considering the names that the team is already pulling in, the road to Europe may be shorter than expected with McKennie on board.

Konrad De la Fuente’s near move

De la Fuente could be stuck in a limbo that no player wants to be in. On the verge of sealing a move to Hull City that would allow him to find his footing, de La Fuente’s loan with Olympiacos was canceled so that he could return to Olympique Marseille and be loaned out again. That loan would have included a very affordable €1.7 million option to buy but then in the closing moments of the window, everything fell apart. 

De la Fuente has only appeared in five matches for Olympiacos this season with his last appearance coming in September where he only logged 12 minutes, so the loan cancellation was something that needed to happen but while he’s still 21, de la Fuente needs a club that will let him consistently play to develop. That wasn’t happening with Marseille and de la Fuente has never had a season at the senior level where he’s made more than 25 league appearances for any club so this is when he needs to find the best destination to grow.

Hull City were a team offering a chance to do that and he was even heading to London to sort out paperwork but the final pieces couldn’t be submitted before France‘s transfer window slammed shut. De la Fuente is one of four players caught in limbo, along with Hakim Zyiech, LA Galaxy‘s Julian Araujo, and PSG’s Ismael Gharbi. A day involving so much money is ruined by how many minutes are on the clock when paperwork is submitted. De la fuente can still seal a move to Major League Soccer, Turkey or a few other leagues but only time will tell if Hull was a lifeline for his career that got away. Considering the team’s success in growing wingers Jarrod Bowen and Keane Lewis-Potter, it was a destination that fit well. There is a chance that Hull could come in for a permanent deal during the summer but in that case, de la Fuente still needs to figure out what to do now in order to avoid this being a lost season.

Hoppe-ing around Europe

Another transfer window and another move by Hoppe in search of playing time. After moving to Middlesbrough from Mallorca during the summer, Hoppe will be going on loan to Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership for the remainder of the season. With only 63 Championship minutes under his belt after also struggling to get playing time in La Liga as well Hoppe needs playing time as he showed flashes of potential with Schalke in the Bundesliga where he also became the first American to score a hat trick in the German top flight. 

Hoppe was able to get playing time during January Camp with the national team playing mainly as a winger and the rust in his game showed. While he has the pace to get into space, the decision making with his final ball wasn’t there. If he’s able to use this loan to get playing time and rediscover some of the form from Germany, this is a move that could help get Hoppe back on track but if not, he’ll be in for another transfer over the Summer and may begin to wish that he stayedwith Schalke in the 2. Bundesliga.  

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