Leeds United have finally found Jesse Marsch’s replacement after appointing former Watford boss Javi Gracia, but his arrival could spell trouble for Weston McKennie.
Leeds announced Gracia as their new manager on Tuesday, ending a long and eventful search for Marsch’s successor. Carlos Corberan and Arne Slot rejected the Whites, while Rayo Vallecano prevented Andoni Iraola from moving. Ex-Ajax boss Alfred Schreuder also visited the club, but backlash from fans prevented him from joining.
Gracia has signed with Leeds on a ‘flexible’ contract. It is likely his deal only runs until the end of the season. If he manages to keep Leeds in the Premier League, then club chiefs will consider offering him longer terms.
Gracia becoming manager has put McKennie’s future into doubt. The central midfielder joined Leeds from Juventus on loan – with an option to buy for £28.9million – during the January transfer window.
McKennie decided to sign for Leeds because of compatriot Marsch. But now Gracia is in charge, it is unclear whether the USA international will remain in west Yorkshire beyond his initial loan.
Italian source TuttoJuve24 have provided a report on McKennie’s situation. They claim there are two big factors which could prevent McKennie from signing for Leeds on a permanent basis.
The first is the amount of appearances he makes. It is stated that Leeds can only trigger the buy option if McKennie plays at least 10 times this campaign. He has featured four times so far, once under Marsch and three times under interim manager Michael Skubala.
But McKennie taking his appearance tally up to 10 depends entirely on Gracia. If the new boss does not fully trust him, then he will not get the necessary game time needed for Leeds to trigger his permanent move.
Weston McKennie transfer depends on two factors
The second major concern surrounding McKennie’s future is whether Gracia is successful in helping Leeds avoid the drop. If they go down then McKennie’s transfer will not be made permanent.
Both of these factors put the 24-year-old’s Juve exit ‘at great risk’, according to the report. If he is forced to return to Juve, then he will be left in limbo as the Serie A club do not want him.
There is the slight possibility of McKennie going to Tottenham if his Leeds spell turns out to be short. Spurs are long-term admirers of McKennie and looked into signing him before he went to Leeds.
Gracia’s first match in charge will be a crucial clash against fellow strugglers Southampton. That game will take place on Saturday at 15:00. After that, Leeds visit Fulham in the FA Cup fifth round.