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Only a matter of time before more US talent follows McKennie to Serie A, says incoming Catania owner Tacopina

14:48 GMT 11/12/2020
Weston McKennie Juventus 2020-21
The midfielder has impressed at Juventus so far, and could spearhead an influx of future USA-eligible stars, says the ex-Bologna president

Weston McKennie may be an outlier as an American player in Serie A but the Juventus star is only the first of a future wave of potential USMNT talent set to make the move to Italy, according to incoming Catania owner Joe Tacopina.

The midfielder, on loan in Turin from Schalke, has caught the eye this season with a string of impressive performances for the Bianconeri, drawing plenty of plaudits.

Coupled with Chelsea's Christian Pulisic, the 22-year-old is regarded as something of a young trailblazer, given the previous difficulties USMNT players have faced at cracking Europe's top sides.

Italian-American lawyer Tacopina, who previously was vice-president of Roma and president of Bologna, is ideally placed to see both sides of a dwindling divide between European tactical superiority and the burgeoning pool of USA-eligible talent.

The 54-year-old, who is set to take over at Serie C outfit Catania imminently, does not believe that Serie A will remain an elusive benchmark for the latter group before too long, though he admits that there is still a gulf between the two.

"I believe that playing in Italy is a very romantic idea for American players," Tacopina told Goal.

"Serie A is one of the best leagues in the world and in America, they follow teams like Juve, Milan, Inter and Roma. This is something very exciting for American players, so, I know that for them it would be an honour to play in Italy.

"I believe that the problem is the talent. Not on a physical level, because I believe that American athletes have great quality on a physical level thanks to the advanced systems of training in the US, the nutritional programmes and all the rest.

"But, from a tactical point of view, we are still behind and we're still lacking something in terms of the level of coaches and training methods.

"However, this problem is becoming less evident. You only have to look at how Weston McKennie is doing at Juventus or Pulisic, first in Germany with Dortmund, and now at Chelsea.

"We're starting to see some true talents emerging in the US and I think that's only a question of time before we see many US players in Serie A.

"It will certainly be one of the things that I do at Catania, because I want to continue to grow the brand in North America, where there are so many Sicilians. For this reason, I consider Catania a club with so much appeal for the US, where there are so many Sicilian-American or Italian-American families.

"If we managed to find a Giuseppe Rossi, an Italian-American, for Catania, it would be something very interesting for us from both a technical and branding perspective. In any case, I think that we will start to see more American players in Italian football, in Serie A or Serie B.

"In my years at Roma, Bologna and Venezia, we did trials with many American players but they didn't work out, because there was still too big a gap in technical quality, but now, I'm sure that it will happen with great frequency."