The one that got away: Liverpool and Weston McKennie

Liverpool's American owners, the Fenway Sports Group, would love a world-class USMNT player at the club. So why did they miss out on Weston McKennie?

Fenway Sports Group (FSG) have never pushed their American credentials onto Liverpool, the club they have owned since 2010.

Their policy has never been to sign a player based on nationality, only on if he was wanted by the club. Obviously if that player did turn out to be American it would be the icing on top of the cupcake.

In all fairness to Liverpool and FSG, there have been very few conversations about American players, as none have fitted the bill when it came to recruitment.

However, there was a time when Weston McKennie was on their radar. The initial identification of McKennie emerged from Liverpool's network of European scouts, who picked him out playing for Schalke.

Weston McKennie in action for Schalke
Weston McKennie in action for Schalke

This was back in 2017, not long after his breakthrough for the German side, who had snapped him up from FC Dallas. Soon after, he was making his debut for the USMNT.

FSG were now aware of the player and they were interested. A potential move gained further traction as their scouting of McKennie was coinciding with Liverpool's wish for a new central midfielder.

Liverpool were now actively monitoring McKennie, but it was clear that Jurgen Klopp had a target of his own in mind and that was RB Leipzig's rising star Naby Keita.

FSG backed the move for Keita. However, they did have some concerns about a £60million deal for a player that would not arrive until 12 months later, and it is believed the idea of signing McKennie was talked about.

However, McKennie was not deemed to be of the same calibre (although his cost would have been less than a third of that of Keita).

Keita joined Liverpool and in the spells between injuries has proven his qualities. Few would argue, though, that he has justified his hefty price tag, but there is still hope, and at 26 his best years remain ahead of him.

Liverpool opted to put their faith in Naby Keita
Liverpool opted to put their faith in Naby Keita

Interestingly, while Keita has yet to set Anfield alight, the star of McKennie, who is now at Juventus, continues to rise.

The Italian giants snapped him up in a surprise loan deal from Schalke in the summer, but all indications are that they will make the deal permanent this summer such have been his performances since arriving in Serie A.

Before his move to Juve, the likes of Southampton and Everton were in talks, but after impressing in Italy, the chances of a move to Anfield have never looked more distant.

As mentioned earlier, FSG have never pushed an American player on Liverpool and never will, but they do believe they might have missed an opportunity in McKennie. A definite source of frustration, they can take positives from the fact their scouting team were among the first to pick out his talent.

Those same scouts are now on the trail of another Schalke star they really like, and he is also American. His name is Matthew Hoppe. The young striker has just broken into the first team and hit the ground running with a string of top displays, including a hat-trick against Hoffenheim.

FSG and Liverpool are very much keeping abreast of his situation. And, following on from McKennie will be more determined than ever not to let another top American prospect escape their clutches.

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