Chelsea are the reported favorites to sign USMNT and Dortmund phenom Christian Pulisic. But there are reasons for fans to be worried.
In the past few weeks, USMNT and Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic has been linked with a move away from the Bundesliga. The 20-year-old started his professional career with the German giants in 2016. Since then he has scored 15 goals in 107 appearances across all competitions. But the young American has seemed to have stalled as of late. A move away from Dortmund might be what Pulisic needs to keep progressing as a professional. The team the Mirror reports that is most likely to sign him is Chelsea, who are reportedly preparing what is close to a $90m transfer fee for the young American. While this is an exciting move, there are also reasons why USMNT and Chelsea fans alike should be a little worried about the boy-wonder playing in London. Here are some of the pros and cons of what could be the biggest signing of summer 2019.
Chelsea’s Youth System
Many people have been critical of Chelsea’s youth system and have every right to be. We have seen top prospects come through the youth academy just to be shipped out as a member of Chelsea’s ‘Loan-Army’ to never be heard of again. There have also been many cases of Chelsea buying top young talents just to sit on the bench or loaned out and then sold a few years later and become a world class player. The obvious examples of this are Romelu Lukaku (10 league appearances in a season and a half with Chelsea), Mohamed Salah (13 league appearances in 2 half seasons), and Kevin De Bruyne (3 appearances in half a season).
Not only should American soccer fans worry about the possibility of the biggest USMNT prospect heading into the future of the program wasting away on the bench or in a series of loan spells, but Chelsea fans should also worry that such an investment in a player could end up being a bust.
Another reason people are critical of Chelsea is that they haven’t had a consistent manager. Since the end of Mourinho’s first spell at the club (ending in September 2007), Chelsea has had 11 managerial changes. It is hard to be a young player trying to establish yourself in the team with so much turnover. If Saari has a plan to include Pulisic in the club’s future but a new manager comes in and changes the system, Pulisic might be left stranded and thrown into the loan spell cycle that so many Chelsea players have fallen into before him.
All that being said, Pulisic’s potential move to Chelsea next summer shouldn’t be seen as completely negative. There are reasons to be excited about the possible signing.
The Hazard Question
For what seems like forever for most Chelsea fans, Hazard has been very open about the possibility of him leaving Chelsea. On more than one occasion said he could make a move in the summer of 2019 to Real Madrid. Hazard is one of the best players in the Premier League. In many ways, the most important player for Chelsea going forward. If Hazard decides to leave, Pulisic has a spot to slot into, only having to compete with Pedro and Willian for a spot in the starting XI.
With Maurizio Sarri at the helm of Chelsea, the playing style has changed dramatically from what we have seen from the likes of Mourinho and Conte. Instead of putting organized defense first, Sarri’s style of play focuses on fast-pasted passing in possession and a high press defense. Pulisic, who is good on the ball and playing quick, short passes, would fit into the Sarri-ball system seamlessly.
Premier League vs. Bundesliga
Pulisic might benefit playing in the Premier League instead of the Bundesliga. He has developed well in the German league, and we already see a handful of American players following suit. But the Premier League focuses much more on physicality and pace than German organization. Both playing styles would benefit Pulisic in the long run. Especially since he will be spending most of his USMNT time playing in CONCACAF.
For better or for worse, much of the USMNT future is riding on Pulisic’s success. We should consider the amount of risk involved in a move to Chelsea. But as with all things, high risk leads to high reward.