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Christian Pulisic to Chelsea – “I’m so excited! I’m so excited! I’m so… scared?”

Sam’s Safe Space For Soccer Stoolies

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Hi Haters™,

Welp, it happened. Pulisic is heading to the EPL and suffice to say my emotions – as with many of yours, no doubt – are all over the place. Let’s try to work through some of them together, with a more detailed discussion of the move coming on Friday’s episode of Sam’s Army podcast.

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What happened?

Christian Pulisic – Our Lord and BVBaby (ripip) Savior – has been sold by Dortmund to Chelsea for $73 million. In a strange and uniquely soccer twist, however, he was immediately loaned back to Dortmund where he will finish out the season before packing up his life and moving to England.

Why now?

That is a good gotdamn question. I’m not at all surprised Pulisic is going to England. An EPL club is best positioned to capitalize on his marketability, and thus they were always going to be willing to pay the most for him. The timing though definitely caught me off guard. I said there is zero chance Dortmund would sell him in January because they have a Bundesliga title to fight for and Champions League round of 16 to contest in February. However, that was before the clubs agreed on the loan-back portion of the deal, which is what made it possible.

By doing the deal now, Chelsea got the jump on other interested clubs like Liverpool, Arsenal and United. (Tottenham would have been interested but there is zero chance Daniel Levy would have coughed up the money needed to get it done.) BVB, on the other hand, got a ton of money and get to keep Pulisic around for the second half of the season. Bary, bary sneaky!

Are we doing boners?

As an American soccer fan, the fact one of our own just got sold for the GDP of a small Caribbean nation is pretty exciting, so sure I’d say it’s fair to order a quick round of boners from the barkeep.

After that is done, though, things get a LOT more complicated.

Thoughts on Chelsea?

Like a lot of people, Chelsea being his final destination makes me nervous – and I say that not as a Spurs fan but rather as a USMNT fan who wants nothing but the best for Pulisic. The team’s track record of developing young talent is… shall we say…. a bit spotty. Some big name players like Kevin De Bruyne, Mo Salah and Romelu Lukaku went to Chelsea as young bucks hoping to flourish but instead were famished for first-team playing time, eventually having to move on to new clubs before really emerging as the world class talents they are now recognized as – or were anyway for Lukaku until Jozay did a number on him.

Chelsea has a long and distinguished track record of bringing in guys and loaning them out. That is precisely what has happened with Pulisic’s USMNT teammate Matt Miazga, who signed with the Blues in 2016 but was almost immediately sent out on loan (currently in France with Nantes).

Even so, there are reasons to think that Chelsea could potentially be a good landing spot for Pulisic. Eden Hazard very well could be moving to Real Madrid this summer. He has almost gone out of his way not to shoot down rumors of just such a move several times in recent months. Other key guys like Pedro (31yo) and Willian (30yo) are not spring chickens and in fact have already hit the “witching age” where skills start to decline – assuming your name is not Messi or Ronaldo, or Glenn Murray.

Point being there could be some spots opening up for Pulisic to play serious minutes for a team that is *often* in the mix for Premier League and (arguably) Champions League titles – in the years they aren’t fighting off relegation anyway.

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(Ricochet shot at Tottenham. Worth it.)

So is Chelsea a worst-case scenario?

No. I’d say the upheaval at United would have made that the least desirable destination for Pulisic from an American soccer fan perspective.

If we are being completely honest with one another, I would have felt a little more comfortable with Liverpool as a destination because Pulisic and Klopp have a great relationship and our baby boy has done well under his tutelage. Then again the Reds are stacked with attacking talent so breaking into the first team would be no easy thing. That same challenge would be exist with Arsenal, albeit without the comfort of playing for a manager that Pulisic knows.

Now what?

Well first off nothing changes because Pulisic will be playing for Dortmund for the next five months. In May, however, our dearly beloved standard bearer for American soccer is going to have a LOT of pressure on him. TONS of Chelsea fans are already bitching their little balls off about the team overpaying for a Freddy Adu 2.0. That is preposterous. Pulisic has done things no American has ever done and despite his recent dip in form (coinciding with the emergence of BVB’s Jadon Sancho) he is not on the decline as some braindead haters may want to argue.

But it is hard to put into words the amount of pressure that is going to be on Pulisic’s shoulders this summer. Not only is he going to be expected to carry USMNT to glory in the Gold Cup, but he will suddenly be thrown into a new and highly pressurized situation at Chelsea where he will be fighting for minutes with a lot of world class talents. It is very much a sink or swim type scenario, but no pressure no diamonds and thankfully Pulisic has shown time and again in his career that he does well when the chips are down.

Are there risks with Chelsea? Hell yes. But there would be risks with ANY of the Big Six clubs in the EPL, which is logically the only places he was ever going to go. For the record, I do NOT think that he is going to be loaned out. Chelsea did not pay BIG MONEY to send him somewhere else. They want him in the team and playing minutes so they can market the hell out of him to a massive and growing American audience.

“I hate Chelsea. So, ummmm, am I rooting for Pulisic?”

I won’t lie to you, beautiful reader, this is a tough question with no clear answer. I guess the easy solution is to hope that every time Pulisic touches the ball things go fabulously well while all his teammates poop the bed. That is a pretty simplistic way to look at it though because Chelsea stinking around Pulisic would inevitably have an impact on his form while also meaning the team doesn’t go well and he doesn’t receive the praise and accolades that we all want him to.

So needless to say, this is going to be a difficult conundrum that we are all going to struggle with for – ideally – years to come.

Thus, when I say “I’m so excited, I’m so excited” I am saying that as someone who loves Pulisic like the best friend I’ve never met and I am saying that as an American soccer fan who desperately wants the team to become a real player on the international stage. To get there, though, we NEED guys like Pulisic with the skills go play in Europe and testicles to take on challenges like fighting for a spot at Chelsea. This is an awesome opportunity for Pulisic, and by extension for the United States of America because it will inevitably be seen as a litmus test – rightly and wrongly – for whether Americans can cut it on the big stage.

Hence, why I am also scared.

But there is no American player in whom I have more trust that they can handle this pressure than Christian Pulisic. So you are damn right I am going to be pulling HARD for him to succeed…. which could in turn make it all the more likely for others to follow in his footsteps.

Godspeed to Christian Pulisic. Goodspeed to American soccer. Let’s f*cking do this.


Holler,
Samuel Army