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Pulisic to just ‘keep going’ as his ‘up and down’ year continues at Chelsea

Crossroads?

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Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Christian Pulisic has not started our last two Premier League games, and has just one appearance in our last four in all competitions, and as he joins up with the national team for some crucial World Cup qualifying action, evidently that has set off all the soccer alarm bells across the Pond, and not for the first time. At least this time, we don’t have some random anti-American accusations thrown at the head coach (sorry, Super Frank!) as a result, so we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.

But apparently this bit of sideline action means that Pulisic is “increasingly peripheral” to the club, to quote The Athletic (UK), or even “truly at a pivotal stage of his career”, as per NBC Sport. We all know that things can change very quickly in football, but not being involved in back-to-back games after making an appearance in 15 of 17, including starts against Liverpool and Manchester City in the league during a run of 7 starts in 10 games from mid-December to early January, now means that he’s chopped liver as far as Tuchel & Co are concerned. Is it any wonder that short-term thinking permeates this sport to its core at the top level?

Throw in a vague and non-specific claim about some attackers feeling sorry for themselves under Tuchel these days — presumably for, you know, not being able to hit the broad side of a barn — and suddenly you have this massive mountain rising out of a molehill, complete with a giant US flag on top because we sure love putting giant flags on things. Is a cameo from Eagly too much to ask for?

Anyhoo, Christian himself has addressed the situation in far less dramatic terms earlier today, and in a way that certainly sounds a bit more realistic and reasonable regardless of what his long-term future might entail. Should’ve done a TV special with ESPN and declared your love for Dortmund instead, Christian!

“It is tough. I haven’t always been playing in the positions I want to play in. But I think it is a good quality to be versatile and able to play in all kinds of positions and have different strengths on the pitch. I’ve learned a lot and I’m ready to hopefully be in a spot over the next few games that I’m more comfortable in.

“[...] obviously it has been up and down this year, for sure. Not exactly where I want to be and how I want things to be right now. I’m just going to keep going and it doesn’t affect me when I come here [to the national team].”

-Christian Pulisic; source: NBC Sport

Pulisic, who spent the first few months of the season dealing with multiple recurring injuries (again!) has been moved around a fair bit ever since, partly on purpose, partly because of injuries, with Tuchel relying on him to fill in and be effective in multiple positions, including striker and wing-back, even. The head coach has admitted that this isn’t necessarily ideal for the player himself (see also: Callum Hudson-Odoi), but needs sometimes must.

FBL-ENG-PR-CHELSEA-BURNLEY Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

Does all that put Pulisic “truly” at a crossroads? He’s halfway through his contract and just a few games shy of 100 for the club. I suppose that does mean he’s about to have to start thinking about what’s next — and Chelsea would have to start doing the same as well. Out of all the forwards on the team, only he, Hudson-Odoi, and Mason Mount aren’t signed beyond 2024, and we know Mason isn’t going anywhere (and hopefully we’re past the point where we have to deal with Callum drama, too).

Pulisic was stellar during Project Restart and played a key role in our Champions League campaign last season. But he’s also been injured a lot, which is never good. He is still very young, just barely 23, but he’s not really been able to reproduce his aforementioned form from Project Restart, or his peak form from Borussia Dortmund, for that matter — certainly not consistently.

He’s hardly the only forward on the team to have underperformed expectations however. In fact, they pretty much all have.

Decisions, decisions...

Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images