Top Stories

Pulisic’s Chelsea future in question as Tuchel continues to leave him on the bench

37 Shares

Christian Pulisic’s current situation at Chelsea is a harsh reminder of how dramatically things can change in a year.

In May of 2021, Pulisic was enjoying a UEFA Champions League title, and his future at Chelsea felt comfortable under Thomas Tuchel, the manager who gave him his pro debut at Borussia Dortmund and the man who helped transform the Blues after taking over for Frank Lampard midway through last season.

Fast forward to a year later and Pulisic finds himself stuck on the bench at Chelsea, not for the first time in the past year, and even Chelsea’s recent struggles or Pulisic’s recent game-winning goal off the bench against West Ham have been enough to earn him a return to the starting lineup.

It has been a full month since Pulisic’s last Chelsea start, which came in the first leg of the Champions League series against Real Madrid. Pulisic had a poor showing that day, and has gone seven matches since without starting, and was left as an unused substitute for two of those matches (including a crucial 4-2 loss to Arsenal).

Pulisic looked like he might earn himself a reprieve when he delivered the winner against West Ham, but Tuchel has persisted with using Pulisic in limited minutes off the bench, just 20 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United and 23 minutes in the stunning 2-0 loss to Chelsea.

The Everton loss was particularly frustrating for how flat Chelsea’s attack looked, and Pulisic’s limited involvement left his father so upset that he took to Twitter to issue a cryptic message lamenting his son’s situation, though he later deleted the tweet.

Pulisic is hardly the only Chelsea player who has found himself on the wrong side of Tuchel’s player management. Romelu Lukaku has been squeezed out of his plans and a summer departure seems inevitable.

Pulisic’s future is a little tougher to read, with Tuchel’s handling of the American star easily construed as him not rating Pulisic. Tuchel has insisted that Pulisic’s drop in playing time was due in part to the negative effects of the most recent international window, and the wear that playing for the U.S. men’s national team and traveling back and forth for World Cup qualifiers put on him.

Tuchel’s true evaluation of Pulisic aside, you have to wonder how much of an appetite there is among potential new Chelsea owners in selling Pulisic. Aside from a marketing gold mine, Pulisic has shown he can deliver goals and assists, and it wasn’t too long ago when he was Chelsea’s best player following the post-pandemic return to action in 2020.

This season has clearly been a disappointing one for Pulisic, who has battled a handful of injury issues while also facing increased competition for playing time. His transfer value is clearly lower than it was a year ago, and Chelsea would be hard-pressed to receive anywhere close to the $70 million they paid for him.

Chelsea’s issues with selling the club — which have hit a fresh hurdle after Roman Abramovich reportedly insisted his loan be repaid as part of the transaction — could also complicate things and force Chelsea to hold on to assets. As things stand, Chelsea is in a holding pattern due to sanctions surrounding Abramovich.

Pulisic is no stranger to fighting for playing time and earning a prominent role under different managers, so it shouldn’t be assumed that he will want to bolt from Stamford Bridge just yet, but a looming World Cup in November could make him at least consider the merits of a move to a club where a more prominent role would be more assured.

There is no shortage of interest in Pulisic, who is the most high-profile American player in the game and heading toward the World Cup later this year, but he is also a quality attacking player who has enjoyed success in the Bundesliga and Premier League.

To his credit, Pulisic has never shied away from a fight for minutes, and he has conquered enough challenges already in his career to lead us to believe he can emerge from his current situation and thrive. That being said, the longer Tuchel leaves him on the bench, the more time Pulisic will have to consider his options, and ponder the possibility that his career might be better served by ending his second go-round with the mercurial German manager.

Comments

  1. I’ve never been a fan of Pulisic playing in Tuchel’s system. CP looks best in a front three where he has more space out wide and can run at defenders. Chelsea usually play w wingbacks and they take up the wide positions which forces CP and the other attackers to come inside where it’s more congested.

    Reply
  2. I think he should look to move. He has been a good soldier for them and has, for the most part, produced when given the chance. Not starting after coming on and burying the game winning goal last week was the final straw for me. Literally don’t know what else he can do. I am confident he will get more playing time with almost any other team in Europe. Add in the roster/owner issues and it becomes almost a no-brainer.

    Tuchel has lost his touch. The mistakes in defense have cost them goals, but the attack has been toothless for a month or more. Hard to believe with all the talent they have that they can’t score against Everton. I thought Ziyech was the best attacker for them this year and now he’s not playing. I have quietly (until now) wondered for two years what everyone sees in Werner, no one has produced less with more playing time. All I ever hear is that “he makes great runs.” Ok….my dog makes great runs too, what about goals and assists….Chelsea is barely hanging on and looks likely to be a real hot mess soon. Time for CP to take his talents elsewhere.

    Reply
    • No one likes Pulisic, or wants him to succeed, more than me. But sometimes we overrate him. He’s at a top 20 club in the world. Those clubs have starter-level players on the bench, and that’s what Pulisic is at Chelsea (at least right now, we’ll see what next season brings). At Southampton, or Brentford, or maybe even West Ham, he’d be a lock starter every week. But if you want to play at a club that has a shot at winning the Premier League and the Champion’s League, there’s going to be incredible competition for playing time. There are plenty of players with higher profiles than Pulisic who are at big clubs and who are playing less than Pulisic. It’s OK … mentioned Kepa and Niguez, and Lukaku and Grealish also come to mind. Guys like Coutinho and E. Hazard couldn’t get on the field at Madrid.
      Pulisic’s got 7 goals in 34 appearances for Chelsea this year. Not bad, but not good enough for him to be an automatic starter. By the way, Werner has 11 goals in 34 appearances, so I would disagree with you that Werner has produced less with more playing time.

      Reply
      • Don’t think I am overrating him johnny, and I’m not saying he should be a lockdown starter for Chelsea. I just think that he should be playing more, both because he has produced when played, and because I honestly think he would help them right now. You’re right that they have 6-7 players for 3 spots that would all be starters elsewhere, that’s a big part of why I think he should leave. I guess it comes down to what he wants at this time, an occasional starter/sub for a top 10 in the world club, or go to a slightly smaller club where he would get more pt and be more impactful to a team’s success.

        Regarding your Werner stats: those appearances were mostly starts for Werner and sub appearances for CP. The comparison should be made by minutes played… I don’t have time to look that up, maybe you’re right that they are more even than they seem but I don’t think so. If you forced me to pick the best attacking players right now for Chelsea I would go Ziyech, Mount, Pulisic, Havertz in that order.

      • Agree completely with jb. Of the players with more than 1,000 minutes played, available online statistics show Pulicic leading the team with .43 goals per 90 minutes, followed by Mount (.41) and Havertz (.37). Among the forwards, he is second behind Havertz in the statistics for goals and assists (.53 v .51), and fifth overall, also ranking behind Mount (.78), Chilwell (.67) and James (.65). Among the forwards, Werner ranks last in goals per 90 and next to last (behind Lukaku) in goals and assists per 90.

      • JB,

        Pulisic would be a lock starter at West Ham.

        Like Declan Rice the noted England international..

        You know what’s going to happen at season’s end?

        Rice, a top player, is going to try to leave WestHam so he can go to a club that plays in Europe and has a chance to win big things.

        Like Chelsea for example,

        Which is where Pulisic is. instead of a wannabe club like West Ham.

        Pulisic is 23 , and is already a Champions League winner. Many players better than him have never even played in a Champion’s league final like he has. He plays on a club that plays in Europe regularly, with a legit chance to win every competition it enters.

        Declan Rice and many other players as good as Pulisic or even better would die to trade places with him. Ask Clint Dempsey what he would do. He’d say stay and fight

        Pulisic is not playing a lot now but better players than him aren’t either and he’s one injured player away from getting a lot more playing time. And there is no reason to think he can’t win a place back on merit.

        If he can move to a better situation more power to him but doing that is a whole lot harder than you seem to think it is. Right now, he’s very lucky to be where he is at.

      • I agree. There is a lot of talent sitting on various benches at this level. And as much as we’d like to think the managers are always coldly impartial, Tuchel does have 3 Germans in his team with a WC looming. All across the Premier League, you’ll notice that coaches have a disproportionate share of their countrymen on the team. Maybe there is a comfort factor for the coaches and the players. As Richard Nathan noted, Pulisic does have more goals per minute than Werner. How much of that is a result as coming on fresh late in the game and running against tired defenders? I would like to see CP start and play at least 70 minutes, since that is what will be needed in the WC. He may need to transfer to be a consistent starter.

  3. I don’t understand the appeal of playing for Chelsea at the moment. Current ownership issues aside, they have more money than they know what to do with, so they buy more attacking options than they need. Teuchel plays musical chairs with them and players end up frustrated.

    Reply
  4. Personally, I’d be more worried about Adams role at Leipzig than Pulisic. Outside of one recent Europa game, Adams has had much lower minutes in contrast to last season. Leipzig isn’t exceeding expectations, so it is not a good look.

    Playing for Chelsea, like other top EPL teams, is a grind and very stressful. His agent will be sure that if Chelsea want to move him because they are eyeing the new ‘flavor of the month’, then he will land in a good, if not better, situation.

    Reply
    • Adams was linked around the Premier league last summer and I would not at all be surprised if RB cashed in this summer.
      Pulisic is in an incredibly competitive situation. Tuchel has around 7 legit options in the attacking positions and only 3 of them get to start. I think Pulisic has typically been a good player for them, but he has not made himself undroppable either. With Premier league, Champions league and league cup their should be enough games for him to be fit and sharp for November.

      Reply
    • PN, you are so on point after today! Adams played a great 90 minutes against Rangers at home and then stayed glued to the bench in the following 2 games. And today they had a lead to protect. Hard to swallow this

      Reply
      • And to make matters worse, Leipzig has underperformed recently, including today against Rangers. Leipzig is a sellers club, so maybe this summer is the time.

  5. I think, CP needs to stay, till after the WC, (as well as Zack Steffen). This is standard for big clubs. ‘Big Club problems!’ As glover mentioned, there’s no guarantee of playing time at another huge club. …Or competing in the Champions League. Kepa, & Niguez, have a bigger gripe over playing time than CP, similar to Giroud & Emerson last season. Respect the parents speak out for their athlete children! …sometimes you can make things worse by thinking you’re helping.

    Reply
    • I agree Steffen needs to stay long term, but he needs to get a loan for next season to get consistent playing time with the WC vastly approaching…..the worst possible scenario is the USMNT going into Qatar with all 3 of it’s GK’s no more than bench players at club level!

      Reply
      • I gotta question Ronnie. Hypothetical, of course, if you’re Steffen, and you get injured while on loan, (Düsseldorf), a month or less, to the WC, do you have a greater chance of making the roster injured, or as a healthy backup?

      • To It’s OK…

        I still think Steffen needs to be playing on the regular. He hasn’t looked sharp at all lately and you’ve gotta think rust at least has some part of it.

  6. Pulisic and a tricky situation. If he has an eye on the World Cup leaving Chelsea is no guarantee that I’ll have starter minutes. As miss used as he seems to be at the moment, a super sub, he is at least getting minutes. Not sure what Teuchel is trying to do. He’s Finally settled on a lineup up top that includes Mount Havertz and Werner though they are struggling mightily. Seems every time CP comes on the breeze fresh life until their attack takes on defenders one V1 creates chances and actually scores as evidenced against West Ham. If I’m CP I’m seriously considering leaving Chelsea as it is a current shit show with their ownership problem. Not to mention I really don’t think their lineup is that good name me any superstars? They play good team defense and some other people by holding the ball but offensively they’ve never struck me as a team they can just annihilate their opponent. If Tuchel doesn’t start Pulisic with this group and they bring in new players what makes you think CPEs going to get a fair shake next season?

    Reply

Leave a Comment