On Friday last week, it was reported by German publication Bild that Chelsea have agreed to a £45m deal to sign Christian Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund. While both Chelsea and Dortmund have not yet confirmed the deal, it could very well be true if multiple sources are to be believed.
Some Chelsea fans are saying that Pulisic is another Willian with age on his side. Let’s see if the 20 year old American deserves this criticism.
Pulisic signed for Dortmund in 2015 to play under Jurgen Klopp’s management. However, Klopp was soon replaced by Thomas Tuchel who has similar style as Klopp with more emphasis on possession. Under Tuchel, Pulisic played as a first-team player for the season 2016-17 (Pulisic did have some appearances during the 2015-16 season but didn’t play a full season). For the 2017-18 season, Tuchel was replaced by Peter Bosz who was soon replaced by Peter Stöger. Stöger was replaced by Lucien Favre for the 2018-19 season.
Of all the coaches that Pulisic played under, only Tuchel had the system that suited the American youngster’s talents. Bosz had similar principles but didn’t last long. Stöger favored counter-attacking style over pressing and Favre prefers the same. Considering all these, I think it is only fair that we look at his stats for the season 2016-17.
This means Pulisic has scored/assisted one goal for every 129 minutes he played. For every 90 minutes, Pulisic scored/assisted 0.7 goals.
Let’s compare this to our very own Willian. Since Willian has not played under an attack-minded coach before at Chelsea, let’s look at this season under Sarri.
Willian has scored/assisted one goal for every 180 minutes he played in the season 2018-19. Or for every 90 minutes, the 30-year old winger has scored/assisted 0.5 goals.
Let’s look at another example. Bernardo Silva, the Manchester City winger from Portugal.
Silva (Bernardo) scored/assisted one goal for every 140 minutes he played under Pep in City’s title-winning season. In other words, he scored/assisted 0.64 goals for every 90 minutes.
See the comparison below.
As you can see, Pulisic fared better compared to Silva and Willian. Of course, one can make an argument that Bundesliga is not as competitive as English Premier League. But let’s remember that during the aforementioned seasons, Pulisic was just 18 years old while Willian and Bernardo Silva were 30 and 23 respectively.
Not bad for a teenager.
As a forward, Pulisic is good with both feet although he is a right-footer by nature. He is seemingly very good at 1v1 and has scored multiple goals in such situations. And yes, he keeps his head up which is something Morata and Willian tend to forget often.
Looking at his performances in the last couple of seasons, I agree that he definitely has struggled. However, I believe that is mainly because of the change in game-play by Dortmund since Tuchel got fired.
With his dribbling skills and off-the-ball movements, I think he can be something that Sarri expects Hazard to be. A False 9.
Before calling me crazy, just hear me out.While Pulisic is a decent winger, he has performed better as an attacking midfielder.
His contributions have more than doubled as a CAM (Central Attacking Midfielder, no.10 role). I know stats aren’t everything, but they definitely don’t lie. As you can see, he is very efficient when deployed in the center. While a no.10 comes a little behind False 9, with his dribbling skills and predatory instincts combined with his playmaking ability, I believe Pulisic can become a perfect False 9 under Sarri.
This also means that Hazard can play on the left wing which is what he wants.
However, there is still a problem. If Pulisic plays in the middle, who is going to play on the right?
May be Callum Hudson-Odoi? Or Willian and Pedro? I don’t know. If recent reports are to be believed, CHO is on the move. Another possibility is that Pulisic can play on the right wing and improve drastically under Sarri and Zola. Whatever the plan is, Hazard and possibly, any striker that we sign next, could benefit from the addition of a player like Pulisic.
To conclude, Pulisic might not be as good as Mbappe, but he could definitely be an upgrade over Willian who is inconsistent and Pedro who is old.
Written by Sarav