Months after a deal was reached in January, Christian Pulisic was finally unveiled as a Chelsea player earlier this summer. The American joins from German side Borussia Dortmund, a club he joined as a 16-year-old after Dortmund’s scouts noticed him while playing for the US U-17s. He now leaves Germany after four impressive years for a fee of €64, making him the third most expensive player in Chelsea history and the most expensive American of all time.
On top of the weight of that hefty price tag, Pulisic must also handle the pressure of being the new face of Chelsea. The club is entering a transitional period with manager Maurizio Sarri off to Juventus and star Eden Hazard fulfilling his dream by signing for Real Madrid. By all accounts, Sarri will be replaced by club legend Frank Lampard and with Chelsea currently hindered by a transfer embargo, Pulisic will have to fill the sizable hole left by Hazard, arguably the league’s best player, alone.
Despite the immense pressure facing him, Pulisic does not seem particularly fazed.
“Eden is a fantastic player and if I can get anywhere close to that I’ll be happy. He’s a great player but I want to come in, be my own player, and do the best that I can do.”
Pulisic, throughout his short career, has never let big moments overwhelm him. He became the youngest player and youngest goalscorer in the modern era of US Soccer and started a Champions League match at the Bernabeu as a 19-year-old without missing a beat; there is nothing to suggest his move to Chelsea will be any different.
As the first American to play for a major European side, Pulisic must act a torch-bearer for future Americans hoping to breakthrough in Europe. The likes of Clint Dempsey, Brad Friedel, and Tim Howard all had solid premier league careers but none played for a club with the allure and fanbase of Chelsea. Pulisic knows his move is a first for American soccer and the eyes of a nation of soccer fans will be on him.
“I want to come and do something that no American has ever done. If I can inspire one American kid to want to play in the Premier League and they come and do it one day I’ll be happy.”
Success at this level will help remove some of the stigma surrounding American soccer abroad and pave the way for some of the other rising stars for the USMNT like Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie to get big moves in the near future.