Christian Pulisic is the closest thing to he who was promised for American soccer fans who have been pining for a legitimate star. I’m not sure what’s the equivalent to being brought onto Chelsea after a successful start to a career at Dortmund, but the closest approximation I can think of is going from a standup small-market NBA franchise like the Spurs to the Lakers or Bulls or Nets.
If Mikhail Prokorov still owned Brooklyn, the analogy would be perfect, because they’d probably be under an operations freeze the way the U.K. froze Roman Abramovich’s assets over the Russian national’s ties to Vladimir Putin.
Having said that, we need to send an extraction crew into London and get our guy out of there. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has relegated Pulisic to the doghouse, and Pulisic’s dad, Mark, isn’t super happy about it.
In a now-deleted tweet — the best way to tease your grievances — the elder Pulisic shared a picture of his son and wrote: “The sad thing is he loves this club, teammates, and London. … puts his heart and soul into being a pro. Onwards and upwards my boy…big 6 months ahead..💪”
Predictably, Tuchel was asked about it, and he gave his best coach-speak response. He and Pulisic have “zero problem,” and the 23-year-old player has been “positive in the last weeks.”
However, there’s been another recent, positive development for both Chelsea and Pulisic. Prospective buyer Todd Boehly is expected to sign the initial round of documents to begin the takeover of the club from Abramovich on Friday. Boehly is most known for owning 20 percent of the Los Angeles Dodgers. (He also founded Eldridge, some firm that owns a bunch of companies and does investing or some shit.)
The reason that’s good news for team and player alike is because soon Chelsea will have an ownership group that’s not being sanctioned by its government, thus lifting restrictions and allowing the club to do soccer club things like participate in the transfer window.
There’s a rumor that Pulisic could be in line to replace Paulo Dybala on Juventus if the forward moves on from his Serie A squad. Dortmund, Chelsea, and Juventus are storied clubs with name recognition among casual soccer fans, and it’d be great to see Pulisic regain his Dortmund form for another big-time team.
The attacking midfielder saw 22 minutes, 19 minutes, and 14 minutes over his past three games, and the last time he played a full 90 minutes — a 4-0 win against Burnley on March 5 — he had a goal, an assist, and received the Man of the Match award.
Pulisic goal highlights on Twitter are the easiest way to send U.S. soccer fans into a daydream, and it’s beyond depressing that we’ve been deprived of that joy because he’s been shoved to the back of the line at Stamford Bridge. We get to see him play on the USMNT, but that’s like watching Dirk Nowitzki play for Germany, or Giannis Antetokuonmpo suit up for Greece. It’s not the same watching them try to carry teammates who literally aren’t in the same league as them.
Expecting a coming-out party in the English Premier League from a guy who was 21 when he first arrived in 2019 was probably a little optimistic, but even though it sucks that everyone who bought a Pulisic-Chelsea kit was rarely able to wear with pride, he still has a massive amount of time left in his career.
A few issues with his health affected his tenure with the team, and that’s the easiest way to lose your spot in the starting 11. It’s also Chelsea, and no one, not even Romelu Lukaku, is immune to losing their place due to injury.
This is totally unfair, and in no world am I saying Pulisic is on the same level as Mo Salah, but the Liverpool star had a more miserable stint as a Blue than Pulisic, and both were around the same age during their time in London.
My point isn’t that soccer pundits will be debating whether Pulisic is the best player on the planet in eight years; it’s that one of the best players in the game today couldn’t even break out at Chelsea at such a young age. Salah needed to knock around the Serie A for a few years to regain his form and confidence before making a triumphant return to the EPL.
Hopefully, Pulisic can follow a similar path to career rejuvenation — or at least find the pitch and the back of the net with more frequency if he goes to Italy.