Chelsea made the first major move of the January transfer window, as they announced the arrival of Borussia Dortmund attacker Christian Pulisic. However, the USA international will remain at the Bundesliga team for the rest of the current campaign. This clause seems odd on the face of it, as he has struggled for minutes this season. If he was to move this month, it is much more likely that he would be given substantial game-time at Stamford Bridge.
The deal has been agreed for £58 million, which is a substantial fee for a 20-year-old. He becomes the most expensive American player of all-time, underlining his reputation in the game. Pulisic has always had his eye on a Premier League move. Liverpool and Manchester City have previously been linked with a transfer, but it is Chelsea that have been the team to seal a deal.
Pulisic has been one of the young stars on the continent during recent seasons. Last season, he contributed four goals and five assists in the Bundesliga. This season, he hasn’t been in the team as much, due to the rise of Jadon Sancho. The Englishman has been more devastating in the final third and his emergence is one of the key reasons why Dortmund can afford to sell their young American.
Maurizio Sarri will be excited to link up with Pulisic. He has all the tools to thrive in the Italian’s system, but he will have to become more influential on the ball. The American averaged 1.2 shots, 0.9 key passes and 2.4 dribbles per game in the Bundesliga last season. Chelsea will expect more from a signing of his value.
There is no doubting the problems in the current Chelsea squad. They are over-reliant on Eden Hazard. Meanwhile, their other two regular wide players, Willian and Pedro, are both over 30 years of age. At 20, Pulisic will provide energy and potential to Maurizio Sarri’s attacking options.
However, one of the main complaints from supporters centres on what this means for Callum Hudson-Odoi. The teenager has been tipped for great things, but this move will see him drop further down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have regularly been criticised for not giving a chance to their academy players and this is another example of that. Bayern Munich have been credited with a firm interest and it could be that the attacker is sold within the coming months.
Throughout recent seasons, Chelsea have given up and sold players too soon. Kevin de Bruyne, Mohamed Salah and Romelu Lukaku are three prime examples of that. It could be a case that Hudon-Odoi joins that list if he isn’t given a chance in the first-team at Chelsea. He will look at Sancho’s rise in Germany and back himself to match that. If Chelsea were to sell the teenager and see him do well elsewhere, it would sting even more considering he came through their academy.
In the past, Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte have both been criticised for refusing to play young players in competitive matches. However, the trend has continued with Sarri. It appears that the problem is one ingrained in the club, rather than being linked to any one coach. Pulisic is only 20-years-old and would be an adding some much needed youthful energy to the squad. However, Hudson-Odoi could reach a similar level quickly if he was given a chance.
It is always great to sign a new player, especially one that was sought after by rival clubs. That said, this isn’t a totally positive signing due to the potential impact it will have on a serious talent in Hudson-Odoi. It shows, yet again, Chelsea have an expensive academy, but it has little benefit to the first-team as players aren’t given a chance.