Winger | Borussia Dortmund | United States of America
There are few players in European football who have such responsibility on their shoulders at such a young age as Christian Pulisic. Aged 20, the wonderkid winger is already the talismanic star of the USA National Team and a key member of Borussia Dortmund’s first-team squad, although his importance to the Black-Yellow cause has waned of late.
Stylistically, Pulisic fits the typical Dortmund attacker mould; quick, energetic, a daring dribbler and positionally versatile. Jurgen Klopp would be very proud and indeed, the idea of Pulisic following the former Dortmund boss to Liverpool has been bandied around frequently throughout his short senior career.
Statisticians will tell you that around the rest of the pitch, Pulisic isn’t nearly as proactive as he is in the final third, just as Graeme Souness types will insist his output is still miles off where it should be for an elite winger. It’s true, there has been a little less progress than expected considering the point at which Pulisic started when he debuted in Germany, but it’s the mentality that endures as much as the ability.
Considering the pressure that comes with playing at a club of Dortmund’s calibre, not to mention having the hopes of a nation of gun-toting baseball enthusiasts on your shoulders, Pulisic’s psychological resilience has proved remarkable.
2018 has been…
Frustrating for a player so unquestionably talented. The end of last season brought about one of the most consistent periods of Pulisic’s career in terms of output with six assists from January onwards, including five in the Bundesliga, but a shock loss to Trinidad and Tobago saw the USA fail to qualify for the World Cup, a tournament where the stage had seemed set for the attacker to truly announce himself as a top-quality player.
That disappointment has lead into a surprisingly difficult start to the new season, Pulisic’s place in the starting XI coming under threat from the latest Dortmund prodigy tipped for great things - one-time Manchester City academy graduate Jadon Sancho. Sancho’s nabbed six goals and seven assists across all competitions and as a consequence, Pulisic’s game-time has reduced; 814 minutes in the Bundesliga for the newly-capped England wide man, compared to just 392 for the American international.
The obvious answer would be dislodging Sancho from the starting XI, but regardless of whether Pulisic wins back his right wing role by the end of the season, a move to another major European club is on the cards due to the his contract situation; set to enter its final twelve months next summer, pretty much every top Premier League side will be sliding into Pulisic’s DMs with lucrative proposals. The Klopp rumours will inevitably start up again, but Pulisic’s also been mooted as a prime target for Chelsea, as someone to potentially step into the almighty void Eden Hazard looks set to leave behind.
C - Regression would be the wrong word, but Pulisic hasn’t progressed much either