Christian Pulisic was always going to be in the (American) media spotlight following his big-money move from Borussia Dortmund to Chelsea this season, but the amount of over-reaction and over-analysis that has followed every minutia of his okay-ish start to life in the Premier League has certainly exceeded expectations. The 21-year-old may not have set the SAH-KERR world on fire just yet, but the hot takes across the Pond just might.
To be fair, Pulisic’s (relative) struggles have put him in sharp contrast with the vast majority of Chelsea’s (mostly homegrown) youngsters, many of whom have quickly become core first-team players in just a few short weeks — and largely on obvious merit, it should be noted, since Lampard has already been accused of xenophobia in this regard, even.
Another wild over-reaction has been the growing notion that Pulisic needs to be sent out on loan in January, as if somehow that will help him force his way back into the first-team reckoning. Fortunately, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard can see beyond just the immediate, and ruled out a loan move with a simple “No”, before reflecting on the youngster’s situation at the club.
“With Christian, he’s come to us in a big move, let’s make no mistake about it, and then he’s just turned 21 recently, and we’ve got a competitive squad here. I said it before the last game, I always have a problem with who to pick. People make my decisions in training or how they’re playing, and at the minute with winning four on the bounce I need the edge of staying in the team and keep performing and everyone is the same.”
“Christian, as with every player in the squad, needs to work hard in training, keep improving in training, see the direction we’re going, be a part of it, and show what you can do on a match day, and all the players are the same there.”
It is somewhat ironic that all these questions surround Pulisic even though he’s had more top flight experience than most of the other young players leading the charge in Chelsea’s youth revolution, but even veterans can struggle with the adjustments necessary when moving from one league to another, especially when the spotlight shines brightly on them.
And at the end of the day, Pulisic is still just barely 21.
“With Christian coming here, we have to protect him for that fact because he’s young. [...] It is [easy to forget his age]. You can look beyond that because he came through at a very young age at Dortmund and huge credit to him for that. It’s amazing to come through that. He was playing at a top level team at Dortmund [but] there were times when he was in the team, times when he wasn’t, that’s part of development. [And] then it brings other difficulties where sometimes you’re out of the team.
“You come to Chelsea and it’s a similar situation. The demands are huge. The interest from outside is huge and he’s a young boy. I have no problem. I see the big picture with Christian and I see it with all the young players.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Goal
Unfortunately, at the moment, the big picture is a bit hidden. But hopefully, much like in an autostereogram*, it will reveal itself in time for the rest of us as well. Keep looking and focus!
*P.S.: Yeah, it was a 90s thing, and it was huge. I could never (care enough to) do it.