Christian Pulisic secured a dream move to the Premier League as Chelsea splashed £60 million to secure the American playmaker’s services from German side Borussia Dortmund. Pulisic will remain on loan with his former club until the end of the year, but he is expected to join Maurizio Sarri‘s men over the summer and challenge for a starting spot then.
This move is both good and bad for Pulisic as he will be leaving a Dortmund side that he has found it harder to break into due to the emergence of Jadon Sancho and the health of Marco Reus, but there are serious concerns about the game time he may receive under Sarri as his pricetag is no assurance of featuring regularly at Chelsea. There is also a positive for a Dortmund side that has been shaken by transfer sagas that have included now former players who would show up late or not at all for training sessions and would refuse to play. For them to be able to move Pulisic will bode well for both the player and the club in the end.
His move also raises concerns for his career that seemed to be heading down a path that would make him one of the best American talents to grace the world footballing stage. That has largely petered out following a dismal World Cup Qualifying campaign that saw teams gameplan against him and has been followed up with fewer and fewer minutes at the Signal Igunda Park under new Dortmund boss Lucien Favre. By no means does that mean that Pulisic is already a bust for Chelsea, but his big money move to his dream league will carry additional burdens.
The financial tag of his transfer will bring with it high expectations, and the unrelenting nature of the Premier League could take its toll. There’s also the physicality of the Premier League which has seen Pulisic nullified in the international stage before. Granted, Chelsea has a greater collective talent than the U.S. Men’s National Team, but many players have struggled to cope with the physical demands of the Premier League.
Pulisic is also not the first big money transfer to Chelsea, and greater players have failed to live up to the billing at Chelsea in the past. Currently, the squad has Pedro and Álvaro Morata who have largely under-performed following big money transfers, and Pulisic will have to force his way into the side either over the likes of Pedro, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and Willian. The closest comparison I see is Loftus-Cheek who has had trouble breaking into the squad, but Willian limped off after 36 minutes against Southampton yesterday which could allow Loftus-Cheek to may a greater case for a position in Sarri’s Starting XI. Since Pulisic won’t arrive until the summer, competition for places in the squad could increase meaning that he will receive less playing time, not more.
The piece that this doesn’t account for is the national team. Unlike many of the major powers in international football, the U.S. Men’s National Team does not currently have the luxury of being selective on the basis of regular football compared to a country like Spain. This is especially true with Pulisic who has solidified himself as the top talent in the side despite not yet being 20-years-old. At this point, Pulisic and his country need him seeing regular football so that he can grow into the player he has shown flashes of becoming.
I hope that his dream move to the Premier League pays off, and he is able to live up to the price Chelsea paid for him. This move will hopefully secure him more regular football and a chance to really grow into the future of American soccer and pave the way for other American youngsters to ply their trade in the elite leagues of Europe.