Leeds United could be set to cool their interest in one midfield target as another comes into focus…
What’s the latest?
That is the thoughts of transfer expert Fabrizio Romano, who took to Twitter this morning to issue an update on Azzedine Ounahi as well as bringing Weston McKennie into the frame.
“Leeds are exploring new options for the midfield including Weston McKennie,” he tweeted.
“It’s one of the possibilities considered by the club as @MatteMoretto has reported #LUFC. The list still includes Azzedine Ounahi after opening bid made weeks ago.”
Having seen a long-standing battle with Napoli for the Moroccan rage on, perhaps now director of football Victor Orta is turning his sights to alternatives that may be more attainable, with a €30m (£26m) valuation touted for McKennie just before the January window opened.
Better than Ounahi
With the infamous risk that comes with signing a player based purely on World Cup fame, this Ounahi deal does raise question marks no matter how impressive he has been for Morocco or Angers.
Having burst onto the scene in Qatar, the 22-year-old enjoyed a fine tournament where he averaged a 6.97 average rating on Sofascore.
He was lauded by many, including Jose Mourinho, for his “incredible” lung-busting displays in the engine room and was an integral cog in his side that made history by reaching the semi-finals.
However, during this period, McKennie was quietly impressing too, and also announced himself as a creative stopper in midfield with an eye for defensive anticipation.
The USMNT star recorded 1.3 key passes per game but married this with 1.3 clearances too, which bested Ounahi in both of these metrics.
However, what does set them apart is their domestic form, where the 24-year-old has excelled for a number of teams including a struggling Juventus at present.
Earning a 6.78 rating this season, he thrives in a slightly more advanced role where he can use his physique and finesse to craft himself chances. It is likely this power that saw him labelled a “monster” by writer Wes Rucker.
As such he ranks in the top 10% for progressive passes received, and the top 13% for non-penalty goals when compared to other midfielders across Europe in the last year.
With Ounahi instead ranking in the top 4% for the former metric, the fact he sits in the bottom 14% for non-penalty goals really outlines why one is far more effective than the other.
Both represent similar value and play styles, but with that added experience at the top of the game, McKennie would clearly be a far better and safer option.