Why did Chelsea sign Christian Pulisic?
That’s the question we’re asking today as we soak in alllll the hot takes about the American’s transfer from Borussia Dortmund to south London.
Team Cultural Impact has a good case to make: Pulisic equals a huge cash grab for Chelsea. In signing the American, the club have guaranteed themselves millions of new American fans.
While America the country has manifest-destinied the hell out of the territory it now calls the United States, that same territory is still ripe for soccer picking. The game is ever-growing [mfn]How many times have you heard that?![/mfn], but there’s millions of casual fans that have yet to be courted[mfn]You’ve prob heard that a million times, too lol[/mfn].
Pulisic playing at a top English club won’t reach the same level of hype as the men’s or women’s national team at a World Cup, but he’ll have a longer sustained hype because he’ll be broadcast every weekend[mfn]Uhhhh, NBC’s probably salivating at the thought of millions of more Gold Plan subscribers :/[/mfn] rather than just a single month.
His ever-growing clout will help crown Chelsea as America’s [European Soccer] Team][mfn]America has a thing for blue[/mfn]. We’ll be seeing Pulisic sporting that Chelsea blue in Nike YouTube ads, drinking Gatorade at Stamford Bridge on Instagram Stories and wearing a Chelsea x Nike t-shirt on LeBron’s Barbershop.
If you’re based in the States, get used to the sight of *a lot* more Pulisic tops mixed in with the Messis, Ronaldos, Neymars and Pogbas. And whose crest will be on the front of all those CP22[mfn]That doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Hopefully he gets a better kit number at Chelsea.[/mfn] kits? Not US Soccer’s[mfn]FYI: nationalism isn’t “in” rn[/mfn]–Chelsea’s.
So, yes, Chelsea signed Pulisic for his Cultural Impact.
But Pulisic is also a damned good player.
We all know England’s Jadon Sancho has eclipsed his American teammate on the field this year, but Sancho is only one of a few U-21 players who has a better upside than Pulisic.
The cynic in you is probably thinking that Chelsea are notorious for ignoring upside in favor of shiny new signings[mfn]Pretend this is a list of the 42874237 players Chelsea have out on loan rn[/mfn]. You’re right, but you’re also forgetting that Chelsea are on the verge of an offensive overhaul. Eden Hazard is in an on-again-off-again flirtationship with Real Madrid, Pedro is past his prime, Alvaro Morato seems to be in a Markelle Fultz-esque funk and Willian always makes an appearance in transfer rumors during the summer time.
Maybe Chelsea are placing their trust in Pulisic to be the first piece of their new front three for the 2019-20 season? $73 million isn’t an overly egregious price in today’s transfer market, especially for a kid who cemented himself as the alpha on a national team with guys who’ve been to multiple World Cups.
That’s the thing with Pulisic: he’s had the rare opportunity to be vaulted on top of a dangerously high pedestal and be humbled to the bench—all before his 21st birthday.
Not counting this season, Pulisic has averaged 23 appearances, four goals and five assists for Dortmund in the Bundesliga. During that same period of time, Pedro averaged 31 appearances, seven goals and five assists for Chelsea in the Premier League.
That’s not a huge difference, especially when you consider Pulisic was 17, 18 and 19 at the end of those three seasons, while Pedro was 28, 29 and 30.
Obviously, there’s more to the game than numbers[mfn]AMEN!!!![/mfn], and Pulisic will undoubtedly experience growing pains during his first season, but he has a high enough ceiling to become a regular—and important—starter for Chelsea. He won’t become a Hazard-type game breaker, but he can definitely scale Willian-esque heights.
Pulisic will have an immediate cultural impact when he arrives at Stamford Bridge, and since soccer is money, Chelsea have already won. The club will be playing with house money when their new American poster boy steps onto the pitch for his first Premier League game. But with Pulisic’s ability, Chelsea have already hit a double jackpot.
*shoutout to ‘New Sky’ by Rüfüs Du Sol for being my repeat song while writing this*