Does christian pulisic start for chelsea ? U.S. international Christian Pulisic made headlines and set records when he was signed by Chelsea from Borussia Dortmund for $72 million in the winter of 2019.
Pulisic had the hopes of Americans on his back as he became the most expensive U.S. player in history, while joining one of Europe’s elite clubs — a ceiling that male American players had struggled to break through.
While his time at Chelsea has been far from a failure, having contributed significantly in his first two seasons as he won the UEFA Champions League title in 2021, on the whole Pulisic has never become a consistent presence in the Chelsea lineup as a regular contributor to their success.
Now 24 years old, the American is creeping towards the final year of his Chelsea contract without a significant run of games or starts in some time. Amidst injuries, managerial turnover, and hefty competition within the Chelsea squad, Pulisic has fought an uphill battle for playing time.
The Blues are languishing in the middle of the Premier League table, and while they are alive in the 2022/23 Champions League quarterfinals, it’s been an overall disappointing season for Pulisic both on an individual basis and on a collective team level.
The Sporting News breaks down why the American may be a star for his country, but struggles for playing time with his club side.
Why Pulisic is not a regular Chelsea starter
There are a number of factors combining to keep Christian Pulisic on the bench, and none of them are easy for the American to complain about.
First, injuries have been a consistent part of Pulisic’s Chelsea career, always seeming to crop up at the worst possible times. This season is a prime example, as he suffered a knee injury in early January that sidelined him for two months right after Pulisic was on his way to locking down a starting spot on the heels of solid performances at the 2022 World Cup.
Managerial instability at Chelsea has also contributed to his inability to find the field with regularity. Maurizio Sarri was the Chelsea manager when the Blues first acquired Pulisic in January of 2019, loaning him back to Borussia Dortmund for the rest of the campaign. By the time he had arrived at Chelsea later that summer, Sarri had departed and Frank Lampard was in charge. He’s also played under Thomas Tuchel and then Graham Potter, and now the interim combination of Bruno Saltor and Lampard again, with a new manager again to arrive this summer.
Additionally, the American has had extensive competition at Stamford Bridge, with world-class players brought in and out on a regular basis. And inconsistent playing time often leads to inconsistent performances for even the best players in the world.
Pulisic has not picked up a goal contribution in Premier League play since early October 2022, and as a result he has been hard to trust while his time on the field continues to shrink.
Yet it’s far from just Pulisic who is struggling in front of goal at Chelsea. Since Graham Potter’s arrival at Chelsea, the Blues have been the worst finishing team in the Premier League. Through a three-match scoreless stretch in early April, Chelsea failed to find the back of the net despite collecting 5.39 expected goals (xG), including matches against Liverpool and Aston Villa where they were blanked despite accumulating over 2.0 xG in each game.
With Pulisic completely left out of the squad for the May 2 game against Arsenal, the Blues were soundly beaten, slumping to a 3-1 defeat with the Gunners going ahead early and never looking back.
Christian Pulisic injuries at Chelsea
Unfortunately for the American, injuries have been a huge part of Christian Pulisic’s story at Chelsea.
According to Transfermarkt, Pulisic has missed a total of 55 matches due to injury since joining the Blues in the summer of 2019 for a myriad of physical ailments.
Pulisic’s knee issue this season, which left him sidelined for two months through the start of 2023, saw him miss 11 games, and it was his third injury with double-digit matches missed. He also missed 12 games in 2021/22 due to an ankle injury, and he missed 12 games with an adductor injury through the first half of the 2020 calendar year which would have been more had it not come in the midst of the COVID-19 shutdown.
Outside of those three significant injuries, Pulisic has had trouble with his hamstring on numerous occasions, including an injury through the second half of the 2020 calendar year that sidelined him for seven matches.
Without the ability to regularly stay on the field, Pulisic has not been able to build trust and consistency within the Chelsea squad and the club’s supporters.
Christian Pulisic stats at Chelsea
While Christian Pulisic has not been a consistent presence within the Chelsea lineup, he has delivered when given a run of games. With the Blues, Pulisic has scored a total of 26 goals and assisted 21 more, with some very important contributions.
The American’s most important goal for Chelsea is almost certainly his strike against Real Madrid in the first leg of their 2021 Champions League semifinal, helping secure a 1-1 draw. He then assisted the eventual winning goal in the return leg at home to advance 3-1 on aggregate, with Chelsea advancing to the 2021 final where they would lift the trophy.
Pulisic has competition at Chelsea
Christian Pulisic’s inconsistent playing time at Chelsea has largely had to do with the amount of competition he’s faced with on a regular basis at Stamford Bridge.
Currently, the Chelsea forward unit includes Raheem Sterling, Mykhaylo Mudryk, Joao Felix, Hakim Ziyech, Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Noni Madueke, David Datro Fofana, and Armando Broja.
The only player from that group who was at Chelsea when Pulisic arrived in the summer of 2019 is Mount, who came through the Chelsea academy, and the rest were brought in since.
Others who have come through the club during Pulisic’s time and have since departed include Olivier Giroud, Pedro, Willian, Romelu Lukaku, Tammy Abraham, Michy Batshuayi, and Timo Werner.
While every player on that long list of attackers doesn’t play the same position as Pulisic, the multitude of selection combinations available to the Chelsea manager of the day have made it difficult for Pulisic to find his way in.
Christian Pulisic Chelsea contract, transfer rumors
When Christian Pulisic was acquired by Chelsea in January of 2019, he signed a deal that extended for five-and-a-half years, expiring in the summer of 2024.
At the time, Pulisic was just 20 years old and had impressed at Borussia Dortmund in Germany, to the level that Chelsea shelled out a whopping €64 million ($72 million) for the American.
Now that his contract is running down, with just one year remaining once the summer of 2023 arrives, there are consistent rumors of a potential transfer departure.
There were significant links to Manchester United, Liverpool, and AC Milan in the summer of 2022, but when those did not materialize, he remained at Stamford Bridge. Still, those links continue to simmer and occasionally surface in the U.K. press through the winter and into spring. He could see renewed interest in the summer of 2023 with just one year left on his deal.
Especially with an American owner in place — Los Angeles Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly led an investor group’s takeover of Chelsea in 2022 — there might be a reticence for the club to part ways with the biggest American name in the sport.
It’s also logical that Pulisic could consider a big offer from an MLS club, or entertain a return to Borussia Dortmund, but otherwise there are very few current rumors circulating publicly as April 2023 ticked on.
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