Wednesday, December 7, 2022

With Christian Pulisic set to stay at Chelsea, it’s now or never to make Premier League move work

With the transfer window closing in a few days, it looks like Christian Pulisic won’t be joining the large contingent of United States men’s international players to move to a new club this summer. According to The Athletic, Pulisic will stay at Stamford Bridge this season despite interest from Manchester United and Newcastle United. He also attracted interest abroad at clubs like Juventus and AC Milan but will spend another season in the Premier League.

Despite Chelsea’s issues in attack, the young American has only played 76 minutes during the first four matches of the season and expressed interest to move somewhere where he could play consistently. As Pulisic plays a critical role for the U.S men’s national team, it is also in his best interest to get consistent playing time ahead of the World Cup, especially as his teammates got blockbuster moves this summer. Brenden Aaronson and Tyler Adams are powering Leeds United up the Premier League table, Chris Richards landed at Crystal Palace, Jordan Pefok is taking well to the Bundesliga with Union Berlin, and the goalkeepers all got moves to secure playing time. Even Josh Sargent is coming out of nowhere to show fine form with Norwich City. 

With the departures of Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku, there was less of a financial incentive to move Pulisic this summer, and with a deal for Anthony Gordon seeming unlikely, Chelsea are fairly light at winger. Callum Hudson-Odoi’s departure along with Antony joining Manchester United and Alexander Isak joining Newcastle were the final straws keeping him at Chelsea.

He has two years remaining on his Chelsea contract but after ending last season on a strong note with a goal and an assist in his last three Premier League matches, Pulisic has been left out in the cold. With American investor Todd Boehley currently as the owner and acting sporting director, it isn’t a shock that he won’t move as he is a good marketing tool for the team to attract American fans, but with Leeds United having Americans who start matches, that could change sooner than later.

After all, he has been a versatile forward for Chelsea contributing 25 goals and 19 assists in 119 appearances. While he has struggled for consistency, this is a better rate than his 19 goals and 26 assists in 127 appearances for Borussia Dortmund. Being reunited with his former coach Thomas Tuchel was supposed to help him reach a new level in Chelsea blue, but he has instead been seemingly relegated to the doghouse.

At 23, it’s now time for one of the biggest challenges of his career, and that’s showing the required fight and resiliency to break back into the Chelsea attack. Kai Havertz’s struggles could open the door for Pulisic as the German has only been involved in two goals in his last ten league appearances for the club. This season, despite a strong showing on the opening day of the season versus Everton, Havertz has only created one chance in Chelsea’s last two matches and taken no shots despite playing 180 minutes in support of Sterling.

While Havertz brings a good presence off the ball, Tuchel can’t continue to rely so heavily on his wingback for chance creation. Pulisic can flit in and out of games, but he is a player who can bring the spark that Chelsea need even if it’s being a more consistent presence off the bench. Twelve minutes here and five minutes there isn’t a way for a player to become familiar with a role. 

With so many games, Chelsea will have to dip into their depth eventually and play Pulisic. At that point, it’s up to the American to ensure that he’s too good to spend an extended spell on the bench again.

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