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McKennie's potential for USMNT & Schalke excites Texas-based coach who first spotted 'special' talent

4:30 PM WAT 28/02/2019
Weston McKennie Schalke
The 20-year-old midfielder is forging quite the reputation in Germany, with those back in his homeland never in any doubt that he would reach the top

Weston McKennie is considered to have “a lot of potential” to unlock with both Schalke and the United States, with the 20-year-old’s former coach excited by how good he can become.

Texas native McKennie, who is currently starring several thousand miles away in Germany is still being closely monitored by those who helped to put him on this path.

When the highly-rated midfield talent was starting out, his ability was first noted by Alphonse Ngon, who runs a youth soccer school in Dally.

McKennie’s talent did not sail under the radar for long, with it apparent to those who polished a rough diamond that he was destined to reach the top.

Ngon told Schalke’s official website of a youngster making quite the name for himself: “The first practice he attended, when he touched the ball for the first time, I knew he had potential.

“I told his parents ‘this kid is going to play at a high level. I’ve coached a lot of kids before, and your kid is special’. Since then, I always knew he would play at a high level, but I never thought he’d do it this quickly!”

Ngon added on McKennie’s early experiences: “Very physical, he has a lot of energy. When he first came to my team I used him as a “roamer”, he didn’t really have a set position.

“Some of the other boys would get frustrated because Weston was also intercepting passes and almost stealing the ball from his own teammates. He always had pace and his recovery was amazing. Watching him do all those things at such a young age, I knew he had potential.”

McKennie, who linked up with Schalke in 2016, now has over 50 first-team appearances to his name and seven senior caps for the United States.

He is attracting interest from across Europe, with Liverpool said to be among his many suitors, and is expected to go from strength to strength despite currently nursing an untimely knock.

Asked what his best position will be, Ngon said: “I like him as a central attacking midfielder. That allows him to drive forward, which he’s good at, but also gives him the freedom to float.”

Any number of sides could stand to benefit from that skill set in the future, while the USA are hoping that he can follow the lead of fellow Bundesliga star Christian Pulisic and become a talismanic presence for his country.

“I think he has a lot of potential and a future in the national team,” added Ngon.

“We have to remember he’s still very young. Now that they have appointed a coach [Gregg Berhalter], hopefully he will implement a system that will complement Weston’s skills.  I like how the coach is playing the young players; this is a strong generation.”