Weston McKennie calls joining United States teammates at Leeds 'cherry on cake'

LEEDS, England -- Weston McKennie told ESPN that having United States teammates Tyler Adams and Brenden Aaronson at Leeds United was the "cherry on the cake" of his transfer to the Premier League club, with the Juventus midfielder adding he would have made the move to Elland Road even without the American contingent there.

On Monday, 24-year-old McKennie completed a loan move to Leeds until the end of the season with the option of a £35 million permanent transfer in the summer if he helps them avoid relegation from the Premier League.

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The former Schalke 04 player becomes the fifth high-profile American at the club alongside Adams, Aaronson, head coach Jesse Marsch and recently appointed assistant coach Chris Armas.

But in an exclusive interview with ESPN, McKennie said he was always going to make the move to the Premier League, regardless of the players and coaches already at the club.

"It was two weeks ago that I heard of the initial interest [from Leeds], and for me, I looked at it and was thinking that it could be good for me because Leeds fit my style and they identify with everything that I identify with," McKennie said. "And I have two teammates here, and one of them [Adams], I feel like me and him kind of play similar in a way, so it fits in well."

McKennie said he sought the advice of Adams and Aaronson, as well as others in his inner circle, before making the move and was told by everyone "you'll fit right in."

"But honestly, my whole decision was based on if I fit in the system or not and can I thrive there and can I be myself and play my style of football? But obviously it was like a cherry on top of the cake having them [Adams and Aaronson] here as well," McKennie said.

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"Just to be able to play with Tyler and Brenden for club and for country makes it a lot easier to settle in.

"So I'm excited to get going because I know how we play together, how we click, how we connect and ready to have that here as well.

"It's a dream come true for me. I've been wanting to play in the Premier League for a long time. As a kid coming over to Europe, I grew up in Germany, so my first thought obviously was to go back to Germany, but after Germany, my second choice was the Premier League, and now I get to live my dream."

McKennie arrives at Leeds with the team facing a battle to avoid relegation, with Marsch's side just one point above third-bottom Bournemouth.

But he says he can help the club climb the table by adding his own qualities to the team in the weeks ahead.

"Hopefully I can bring good energy, fresh energy, some goals, defensive work and everything," he said. "Just good work ethic and hopefully, all together, we can turn it all around and gather as many points as we can in the second half of the season."