Today, Christian Pulisic turns 21. Back home in the USA, this marks the final rite of passage into adulthood. Young Christian is now able to purchase and consume alcohol legally. Socially, he would be considered no longer dependent on his parents.
Pulisic, of course, is not your normal American kid turning 21. He’s the youngest American to feature in the Premier League. He is also the most expensive US footballer ever. He carries the weight of a nation eager to watch his every move.
At the moment, Pulisic isn’t a nailed on starter for Chelsea — and that’s okay. Critics will point to the lavish price tag that came with his transfer from Borussia Dortmund. However, it will be unfair to Pulisic to hold that number over him.
Chelsea were willing to splash the cash on Pulisic for the potential. He is an unfinished product with an unknown ceiling. Chelsea hope that Pulisic will grow into an impact player. It is up to him to fulfill the hype the fans have bestowed upon him.
He says the right things. By all accounts, he is a hard worker. The motivation seems to be there, he did after all forego a post-Gold Cup summer break to join Chelsea preseason immediately.
“He is in the plans. We have got the squad and the wingers to choose from. With Pedro’s experience in the Champions League it was a decision to make, but Christian is well in the plans.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Mirror
For Pulisic, it is now two consecutive matches without an appearance. It is also two consecutive matches with a new formation and tactical setup. For Lampard at the moment, perhaps the plan with Pulisic is for when the team plays in a different shape.
Lampard’s comments these past couple games with the new system make it seem like he’s looking for more inverted attackers from the wide spaces leaving the wingbacks to provide width. Pulisic’s game at the moment seems to gel more as a traditional winger providing width than an inside attacker. He also seems to cater more to the role of a creator than that of a scorer.
Pedro, who featured in last night’s fixture after Mount’s injury, is a fantastic player who has won just about every trophy an individual could hope to achieve. Pulisic’s Champions League experience pales in comparison. However, it should be noted that Pulisic has done well in over 20 appearances with Dortmund.
Top 5 Best Goal by Christian Pulisic— ♥KAA ♥ (@zztulira) August 12, 2019
1) Dortmund Vs Benfica - UCL pic.twitter.com/XEDFHI4HtH
Defensively, the work rate is there with regards to the high press, however his defensive coverage and contributions can be lacking at times.
In his four appearances thus far, there have been positives and negatives. Much can be said of his competition, especially Pedro and Willian. Excluding Mason Mount’s hot start, the trio of Pedro, Pulisic, and Willian have accounted for zero goals scored and only one assist (Pulisic) in the Premier League.
Patience is critical with regards to Pulisic, as it is with each young Chelsea player. While it is thrilling to bear witness to Mount and Tammy Abraham’s meteoric rise, not every Chelsea youngster will hit it off right away.
Most would consider last season to be Ruben Loftus-Cheek’s breakout season with Chelsea. In comparison to current season stalwarts Mount and Abraham, Loftus-Cheek’s season began slowly last year. He only solidified a consistent role in the team by the second half of the season — and he had been knocking around the fringes of the first-team since 2013.
For a squad who continue to be drawn thin in depth with a revolving door of injuries, minutes for the young American will come. Whether Pulisic is able to grow into the impact player Chelsea want and need will be up to him. Judging by Tomori’s recent run of appearances, it will take meritocracy and training results to get into Lampard’s team. The investment is there, hopefully the patience will be worth the wait.
Most of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRISTIAN!