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The SBI View: Dortmund stay remains best long-term option for Pulisic


Christian Pulisic has always been ambitious. At 16-years-old, he was off to Germany, pursuing his professional dream with one of the top clubs in the world. At 17, he had cracked the roster, firmly establishing himself on the highest level while earning a call-up to the U.S. Men’s National Team for a major tournament.

Now approaching his 18th birthday, Pulisic’s ambition reportedly has him considering a move away from Borussia Dortmund, a decision that would be a bit short-sighted for a player that is still far from a finished product.

Reports out of Germany emerged Tuesday stating that Pulisic was thinking over the option of a loan or transfer away from Borussia Dortmund after missing out on the club’s SuperCup squad. The report says that Pulisic is in search of more playing time, a privilege that may be a bit scarce following Dortmund’s additions of players like Mario Gotze, Andre Schurrle, Emre Mor and Ousmane Dembélé. Entering the Bundesliga season, Pulisic appears to be a bit crowded out, as the club has reinforced across the forward line.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting more playing time. Pulisic has obviously gotten a taste of top-level soccer, and no one can blame him from wanting more and more. Following a two-goal Bundesliga campaign and a series Copa America appearances against elite national teams, Pulisic has seen the next level and clearly wants the chance to take the next step as a player.

However, even for prospects with futures as bright as Pulisic’s, there is a case of too much, too soon. No matter how talented he is, he remains just short of his 18th birthday, still a newcomer to the professional game. There are few that would know that better than Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel, a manager who certainly has a plan in mind when it comes to Pulisic’s development. Managers don’t just forget about talented players when new ones come in, especially at a club like Borussia Dortmund. Throughout the past decade or so, German clubs have been among the best out there at managing young talent, and they have a World Cup to show for it.

At his age, Pulisic cannot expect to be playing 30 games in the Bundesliga. He is still maturing physically and is not yet prepared to compete at that level every week. Luckily, Dortmund has no shortage of matches, as cup ties, Champions League and Bundesliga matchdays will combine to present Pulisic with several opportunities to earn minutes.

Even if this season produces fewer experiences than last, that’s okay. There are few players around the world making regular contributions at the age of 18, especially at one of the best clubs in one of the world’s best leagues. Each day, Pulisic is given an opportunity to learn from players like Marco Reus, Gotze and Schurrle, each of whom has won several trophies at the top level of world soccer. That opportunity cannot be understated and, at his age, it is one Pulisic should embrace even if it means some time away from the limelight. It would do Pulisic plenty of good to have a steady diet of first-team training, as well as reserve team matches, with several senior appearances sprinkled in.

There are some drawbacks to that plan, though. Pulisic may fall a bit behind in the USMNT pecking order, as players like Julian Green and Lynden Gooch further themselves with their respective teams. Yet, both are older and have paid their dues with years of youth team build up, something Pulisic should not be ashamed to experience this year if Dortmund decides that is how to handle him this season.

Dortmund clearly has a plan for Pulisic, one that will see the club do what they think will maximize his development. It may not be what Pulisic wants right now, especially after last year’s experiences, but that doesn’t mean it’s time for him to leave the club that helped him already achieve so much at such a young age.


  1. While each player is different and each player matures at different rate, it is safe to say that most 18 years old’s would not compete effectively for a whole 34 game Bundesliga season, Cup play and CL play. The fatigue factor and recovery rate is a lot different from an 18 year old and a 20 or 21 year old. Dortmund brought in several new players in Ousmane Dembele, Emre Mor and Mikel Merino that can play the same position as Pulisic, and they are only 19 and 20, BUT none of those three have played in any Bundesliga games or have played a full season at the same position. Dortmund are doing what all good teams do, build for the future, and especially do not put all their eggs in one basket, knowing full well the vagaries of injuries, illness fatigue and the ability to do ones best under all circumstances. Pulisic will be given the time to win his position and will not be required to play in a lot of games and at his age, to do it.

    Another factor no one has mentioned is that this nuget of information about a desire to play elsewhere, is not above a manipulation factor. Pulisic has a contract until 2018, it is in the year 2017 that the negotiations for his future 1st team contract would begin. When Pulisic signed a contract with BVB, it wasn’t a large one. His initial valuation on the transfer market was most likely around 150-175K. It is now at around 5 Million. That’s the biggest for a 17 year old in the Bundesliga (and there are only 3 others, and they are all recent signees from their academies or U19’s) and most likely one of the biggest in Europe for a 17 yo right now.

    The valuation is set on his playing ability AND number of games, scoring, etc which is all a factor of his hard work. But another way to raise his valuation, is for other clubs to inquire of Dortmund about the possibility of a sale or loan. The rules of Supply and Demand then are put in motion and it is translated into more valuation when there is more interest. It is not above agent to drop these kinds of hints, during the start, or even before the start, of contract negotiations. to boost his clients worth. Other clubs reading the German Article and SBI may give BVB a ring and every phone ring is a ka-ching for Pulisic.

    • How many 18 year olds will be playing for CL teams that are expected to make the knockout round? I can’t believe its more than a handful, Sanches is the only one who comes to mind and it remains to be seen how much he plays for Bayern.

  2. In my opinion there are a lot of comments here that don’t make sense. The author keeps saying “clearly Dortmund have a plan for Pulisic” but what is that plan? This is soccer, there are only two options, play the player or sell him/loan him. When it comes to soccer and being on a professional team I am sure that even at 17 Pulisic is much more knowledgeable than all of us. So if he is looking for a move it’s probably with good reason. With so many highly paid and established stars ahead of him he likely won’t play much at all, no matter how many different competitions Dortmund are in.

    Rob says “no one will look after his development like Dortmund will”. I’m sure any team that BUYS Pulisic and now owns him will also carefully look after his development and probably play him.

    • Your entire posts is based on ignorance of Dortmund and their development culture.. The writer is correct. They didn’t bring Christian in with the idea that if he wasn’t scoring boatloads of goals in year two or three then he would become a forgotten man. He is special, everyone knows it but the club also has to win now so they are bringing him along at the pace that makes sense for them. He is 17 and not ready for a full slate of European football day in and day out. He has more growing to do both physically and mentally before he is ready for that level of responsibility and the commitments that come with that and he WILL get good appropriate amounts of PT throughout the season for sure.

      • It can just as easily be said that your comment shows ignorance or anyone else that has no ties to the Dortmund. Saying that BVB has his best intentions at heart is all speculation. Yes, Dortmund has been known to develop players, but every case is different and being so matter of fact about it is silly. Pulisic is young and pictures he has more developing to do but we shouldn’t act like Dortmund is the only club capable of developing him while also giving him the playing time he craves. It’s ultimately his career and he may know something that no of us can begin to understand so I think a wait and see approach is the only conversation that has merit to it

  3. If he leaves he’ll find his butt firmly planted on the bench at the first sign of deficiencies which shouldn’t take long. Nobody will look after his development like Dortmund will.


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