The name of United States international Christian Pulisic has regularly featured in the transfer headlines over the previous six months and Chelsea eventually sealed the deal for the 20-year-old, although he won’t be joining the club until the beginning of the 2019/20 season.
Chelsea are currently stationed in fourth place in the Premier League table in their inaugural season under their Italian manager Maurizio Sarri. Pulisic is undisputedly the best player of his generation from the United States, but the lucrative offer of £58 million seems rather excessive for such a young player, who has scored just 15 goals in his 115 club appearances as a professional.
In terms of technical ability and application, Pulisic will meet the required standards to play in the Premier League and for a club as prestigious as Chelsea. Yet, I can’t help thinking that Pulisic will provide very little improvement on the squad currently available to Sarri.
Eden Hazard, Willian and Pedro are the first team options who’re deployed as wingers and Bayern Munich target Callum Hudson-Odoi is also vying for a place in the starting line-up. Hudson-Odoi is one of the most promising young players in England, yet Sarri has spent £58 million on a 20-year-old from the United States!
The fact that Christian Pulisic is the best player from the United States isn’t an argument behind why Chelsea forked out so much money to bring him to the club. Instead, it underlines the lack of talent currently emerging from the youth ranks in the United States, rather than his extraordinary ability as a player.
Another worrying sign is that Pulisic has lost his regular starting place at Borussia Dortmund, after the emergence of fellow youngsters Jacob Bruun Larsen and England international Jadon Sancho. So if he’s unable to break into the first team with The Black and Yellows, then how is he supposed to gain a starting place at Chelsea with the likes of Eden Hazard, Pedro, Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi for competition?
Stats Don’t Lie!
The 20-year-old winger has started just 11 games in all competitions for the Bundesliga leaders this season. Two of those appearance came in the DFB-Pokal and four in the UEFA Champions League. Also, six of his appearance in the Bundesliga have come from the bench and he’s currently experiencing his second-lowest scoring season at Borussia Dortmund with just three goals.
His more detailed statistics also make for difficult reading. One of the weaknesses of his game is that he gives the ball away to the opposition far too frequently. He’s averaged 2.3 unsuccessful touches and has been dispossessed 2.4 times per game in the Bundesliga this season, which could prove costly with the clubs’ who set-up to play on the counter-attack.
Still just 20-years-old, Chelsea mostly paid for the Hershey, Pennsylvania native’s potential rather than his end product. But if this transfer indicates the end of Hazard’s time at Stamford Bridge, the Blues will not have his American replacement ready to perform consistently at Premier League level for a few years, and he will probably never make it anywhere close to the Belgian’s level. Dominating games against Trinidad and Tobago or Jamaica in front of friendly crowds is one thing, but doing it in hostile atmospheres against well-established players who would do anything to come away with three points against one of England’s biggest teams is a whole different world.