New Chelsea manager Graham Potter is not using Christian Pulisic properly. The American international was surplus to requirements in the 2-0 win away to AC Milan. Each game missed is a tell that Pulisic’s career is slipping through his fingers.
Ahead of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Christian Pulisic is the poster-boy for the USMNT. Not only is Pulisic perhaps the side’s best player, but he continues to hold strong potential for club and country. Essentially, he should be the American equivalent to Gareth Bale with Wales.
Instead, Christian Pulisic is not playing for Chelsea. Consequently, he looks to go into Qatar undercooked and low on confidence.
Ironically, a few miles down the road at Tottenham, the perfect coach and position is available. Pulisic would slot well into Antonio Conte’s patented wing-back role.
Christian Pulisic is lost at Chelsea
Pulisic came into his own after rising through the ranks at Borussia Dortmund. A move to Chelsea was the last thing he needed.
Unfortunately, there is a bias against American players in Europe. Talent and potential leads to immense amounts of hype and support back home. Oftentimes, coaches are in a difficult position with regards to selecting them.
Pulisic is the most naturally gifted American footballer the country has produced. He should have reached the top of the world game by this point. Or, at least, he should be starting for a top club.
However, he joined a club that is renowned for dispensing with coaches. Since 2019 he worked with 3 at Chelsea: Frank Lampard, Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter. None of the three fully trusted him to be a regular starter, although all three have praised his ability publicly.
The disconnect comes from injuries and ebbs and flow in form. Pulisic does not overtake any of the current Blues in his same spots, players like Mason Mount, Raheem Sterling or even Kai Havertz. Frankly, there is no position for him.
Antonio Conte would have turned Christian Pulisic into an elite wing-back
Certain coaches have spots in their side that suit talents like Pulisic. With Antonio Conte, his record with wing-backs is simply phenomenal.
Throughout his career, Conte does the most with those at his disposal. He got the best out of a bang-average Emanuele Giaccherini at Juventus. He turned Victor Moses into a Premier League star. Conte is untouchable in this regard.
The Italian teaches the basics of the position so well, especially if a player is naturally athletic. Pulisic has blistering pace but sometimes lacks the intelligence to make the right pass in the final third.
He’s barely played enough football to build a rhythm, and hasn’t developed since being in the Bundesliga. Conte would have utilized his speed and taught him the basics of the position. The two blended together would have developed him massively as a footballer.
Of course, there is the small matter of Christian Pulisic hating the role of wing-back. Chelsea coaches tried it, and it didn’t work.
Changing his ideas
Christian Pulisic maybe has to adjust his expectations. He isn’t quite a No.10, not that the position is common in 2022. Also, natural winger is not his spot. He needs to accept that playing football wherever he can would be the most beneficial thing.
There is a misconception that a player who trained as a wing-back. Some believe he cannot switch to another position. For the USMNT, Pulisic will always be a star attacker.
Conte’s coaching would have made him better. A more rounded player. One who would be capable of playing confidently anywhere.
At the present moment we’re seeing a player with fragile confidence, scared to try something new. He thinks he’s a winger, but he’s never going to unseat Raheem Sterling or Mason Mount.
Is it too late for the American star?
The 2022 World Cup will not see Christian Pulisic at his best. His chance to move and get ready for the tournament has passed.
January 2023 will be the next opportunity for the American to move, and he needs to take it.
Conte has his selection of wing-backs at Spurs now, so a move there is unlikely, but Pulisic needs a coach with similar discipline but one who believes in him.
It may require lowering expectations with regards to the standard of club, but in the long-run that will be for the best. At present, Pulisic must find his way. Staying put does nothing to change that.
PHOTO: IMAGO / News Images
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