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Lampard on Pulisic: “He will only improve” after strong debut EPL season


Christian Pulisic is fit and ready to go for English Premier League side Chelsea as the London club kicks off its domestic schedule on Monday. After an impressive debut season in England, Pulisic will now look to take the next step forward for Frank Lampard’s side.

Pulisic was one of Lampard’s key performers in his first season as head coach of the club and was rewarded with a new jersey number coming into his second year. The 22-year-old trades in No. 22 for the historic No. 10, taking over for Willian, who joined Arsenal earlier this summer.

Lampard made the choice of giving Pulisic the new number after delivering plenty of positive moments in his first season.

“I wanted him to have it {the No. 10 kit] because I felt like he deserved it and he wanted it,” Lampard said in an interview with NBC Sports. “When it became open I think what Christian delivered in his first year more than warranted that he gets the 10 shirt for what it means. I know it means a lot and there will be a few in that line to try and have that shirt but I was very pleased, I was keen for him to have it.”

I was very pleased to actually make the call. I called him, as he was home at the time, and I could sense he was happy and I sense the feeling in him now that it’s maybe another little push up for him hopefully where he can feel confident that he’s here, he’s number 10, the responsibilities that come with that and I’ve got no worries with Christian.”

Pulisic suffered a few setbacks in his first season, but ultimately finished with 11 goals and seven assists in all competitions for the club. The U.S. Men’s National Team star became the second American player ever to score a hat trick in the Premier League and also became the first to score in an FA Cup Final.

Unfortunately, Pulisic left the historic cup final vs. Arsenal due to injury, but since has recovered ahead of Monday’s season opener. Lampard is keen to have Pulisic in his starting lineup for every match, but will make sure to manage him as well to avoid any possible injuries.

“I think last year, I had every feeling that Christian was going to come here and be a huge player for the club,” Lampard said. “I knew his talent, I saw it very early on in his time here and it became very much a talking point in and around the club when I didn’t start Christian that regularly in the early parts of the season. I genuinely felt it was for time for him to adapt to the league, having come off the back of having one week off in between seasons.”

“The only thing we have to continue to do is manage him because he’s so fast, and the way he plays, we have to manage to try to come away from those big injuries he had last year. That’s something that’s a work in progress between medical and my conversations with Christian because we all know what a fit Christian Pulisic can do.”

Pulisic will battle with top competition for minutes in the Blues attack after Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, and Hakim Ziyech all signed for the club this summer. The arriving trio combined for 56 goals and 38 assists in all competitions last season for their respective clubs and will be hungry to jump into the fold.

However, after impressing in his first season in London, Pulisic has the leg up on the competition and will look to form strong partnerships with all three in hopes of fighting for an EPL title.

He’s come back looking really hungry,” Lampard said. “He will only improve, I feel, with the players we’ve brought in around him, in those forward areas.”

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