In the summer of 2020, as the Covid stricken 2019/20 season commenced behind closed doors, Christian Pulisic displayed his finest performances in a Blue shirt, as he steered Chelsea into Champions League qualification; the competition they eventually went on to win the following season.
The then 21-year-old was the first name on the Blues’ team sheet, as his first-class form had made him a fan favourite overnight. Pulisic thrived under Frank Lampard’s set-up, as he formed a dangerous partnership down the wings with fellow teammate Willian. Stellar performances against Manchester City and Liverpool, in particular, had earned him heaps of praises from fans and his playstyle was even compared to that of Eden Hazard. However, flash forward to 2 years later, Pulisic has unfortunately fallen down the pecking order in the Blues’ attack. This leaves us with the question:
What’s happening with Christian Pulisic at Chelsea?
After Pulisic’s “lockdown era” in 2020, he was ruled out with a hamstring injury for a number of weeks. This setback slowed down his development into the next season, but he still managed to display a few great moments here and there throughout the course of his campaign.
The American has had a poor and unfortunate history with injuries; muscle issues, in particular, have hampered his growth in a Chelsea shirt, and he’s struggled to find consistency in his performances as a result. Injury setbacks are mentally and physically exhausting for players to deal with, and some would argue these obstacles have negatively impacted his confidence over time.Embed from Getty Images
Despite this, he still played a massive part in his team lifting the Champions League trophy. He was named man of the match in Chelsea’s UCL quarter-final second leg against Porto, however, his best performance came in the semis against European giants Real Madrid. He scored against the Los Blancos at the Santiago Bernabeu and assisted at Stamford Bridge, sending his team to the final after a dominant showing.
Unfortunately, his luck seemed to have run out shortly. 2021/22 was a fairly forgettable season for him, as he struggled to cement his place in Thomas Tuchel’s starting eleven, competing with the likes of Mason Mount, Hakim Ziyech and Timo Werner. The USMNT captain struggled to impress throughout the season, as his finishing ability has been widely criticised by Chelsea fans. Pulisic seems to have lost his confidence in front of goal, and as a result, he’s constantly been in and out of Thomas Tuchel’s side.Embed from Getty Images
Under previous manager Frank Lampard, Pulisic performed well as a left-winger in the 4-3-3 formation. However, after Lampard’s departure, Pulisic has struggled to find his feet under Thomas Tuchel. The manager prefers playing a 3-4-2-1 formation with Mason Mount as a left forward in his set-up, which also seems to be the American’s preferred position, as he’s better suited to the left side than the right.
Chelsea’s strong squad depth means constant squad rotation; some players work well with this and others struggle for momentum when given game time. As a result, at times, Pulisic has underperformed when played in different positions to accommodate for Chelsea’s other attackers as well; these positions include playing as a right wing-back, centre forward and right-winger.Embed from Getty Images
New owner Todd Boehly is also looking to invest heavily in Chelsea’s attack this summer, as he aims to further fuel his side’s fire power. The Blues are interested in bringing Raheem Sterling to Stamford Bridge, which could mean the door for Christian Pulisic’s exit may be open.
The 23-year-old’s future in blue lacks certainty, as he’s also linked to a move to Juventus. There’s no denying that the 23-year-old has a long career ahead of him and has a lot of potential left to unlock, but perhaps, the simple reasoning as to why he’s underperformed under Tuchel is because he’s struggled to fit into the manager’s new style of play.
Former Blue, Tammy Abraham was previously sold by Chelsea as he struggled to fit into Tuchel’s system, however, he’s excelled in Italy and managed to become a fan favourite at AS Roma under Jose Mourinho. Pulisic still very much has the potential to be one of Chelsea’s long-term assets, but if other players are preferred over him by the manager, perhaps a new chapter in Turin could allow him to rediscover his finest form and return to his absolute best.
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