Schalke: Does it really matter where Weston McKennie plays?

Weston McKennie, Schalke 04 (Photo by Ralf Treese/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Weston McKennie, Schalke 04 (Photo by Ralf Treese/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /

Schalke has moved Weston McKennie all over the formation, but does the lack of consistency actually matter given his style of play?

Just a couple days ago, I explored the possibility of giving Weston McKennie the same Schalke treatment that Jermaine Jones got. Give him a central midfield position and build everything around him. I still love this idea. Everyone should, really. But I want to explore the opposite now—does it really matter where he plays?

My logic here is centered on his style of play. Weston McKennie is all-action, he covers so much ground and he manages to pop up just about everywhere on the pitch with relatively low risk to hurting the club.

Whether he’s playing centerback, rightback, central midfield or wide midfield, he always manages to have a universal impact. It’s hard for a rightback to be such a constant presence, but McKennie pulls it off.

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Hence the question—if he is going to be everywhere anyway, and he’s athletic enough and intelligent enough not to get too carried away, why not just play him where we need him and accept his impact where it’s needed?

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The only real downfall to this is the old concerns of, if you don’t give a player a set position, he can often struggle to improve. After all, it’s a rare player that can play four different positions with equal efficacy.

McKennie is still young, but he may well be a guy that has such an all-purpose approach to playing that he can play in any position needed with the same level of performance.

The other concern with a player moving around so much is if other clubs sniffing around, willing to offer a set position. That doesn’t become much of a concern with McKennie, who has been outspoken in his devotion to Schalke. When contracts were in question, he signed and bragged about it, gushing that he could play here forever.

McKennie is the kind of guy you could build a club around, I have no doubts about that. But it might actually be counterintuitive to tie him down and not open up his versatility to move around. After all, until the club has more pieces set in place, it’s best to keep an open mind.

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For that reason, I’m reconsidering this “build around a set McKennie” prospect. Still build around McKennie, of course, but where he plays in a formation just doesn’t matter that much.