Five years after making his professional debut, Christian Pulisic will be reunited with the manager that gave him his first opportunity as a professional.
Thomas Tuchel has been hired as Frank Lampard’s replacement as Chelsea manager, and the appointment reunites Pulisic with the manager who guided him from Borussia Dortmund’s academy to the first team, helping them win a DFB Pokal title a year later before he was forced out in surprising fashion due to disagreements with Dortmund executives.
Five years later, the pair are reuniting at Chelsea, where Pulisic had established himself as a regular starter under Lampard. The 22-year-old has hit a goal-scoring slump, having managed just one goal since October. Pulisic had endured some injury issues that led to a stop-start beginning of the new season, but he had started eight of Chelsea’s past nine matches in all competitions before Lampard’s dismissal on Monday.
That run coincided with a poor run of results for Chelsea, which Tuchel is being brought in to turn around. There is a good chance Tuchel will look to make changes upon his arrival, but U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter sees Tuchel’s arrival, and his history with Pulisic, potentially being beneficial for the American star.
“For Christian, I think the benefit is that he knows (Tuchel) very well, and that’s always important,” Berhalter said. “He’s coming in with with a real good understanding of what Christian can do and his skill set. I think that’s important. He also has seen Christian develop, and improve over his time at Dortmund.
“And for Christian, it’s the familiarity with how he coaches, his coaching style communication style, and that’s all helpful,” Berhalter said. “There’s not that, that uncomfortable period when you’re getting to know the coach. So I think those could possibly be benefits.”
Pulisic enjoyed one of his best seasons in the 2016/2017 campaign under Tuchel, the season that concluded with a victory in the DFB Pokal final. That success helped propel Pulisic into the conversation as one of the top young prospects in Europe, and laid the groundwork for his record-setting transfer to Chelsea.
“I’m just very thankful for everything he did for me,” Pulisic said in 2017 of Tuchel. “Tuchel always just trusted me and gave me a chance. Of course he’s given me tips and feedback with what he sees every day in training and stuff like that, small things.”
The two will now reunite in London, with Wednesday’s match against Wolves serving as Tuchel’s Chelsea debut. The reunion will serve as an opportunity not only for Tuchel to revamp his career after being fired by Paris Saint-Germain in December, but also provide Pulisic with a chance to recapture the top form he enjoyed in the summer of 2020, when he played a major role in helping Chelsea secure a top four finish and a place in the FA Cup Final.