Is Chelsea move the right step for Pulisic?

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This will have been the first question every U.S. men’s national team fan asked: is this transfer to Chelsea the right step in Christian Pulisic’s career?

And there is no simple answer.

[ MORE: Pulisic issues statement ]

We all know that Pulisic was destined to play in the Premier League. He has said time and time again that he hoped to move there one day, and his love for the league is clear after his spell living in England as a youngster and watching closely from Hershey, Pennsylvania growing up. The fact Pulisic has arrived at one of the biggest clubs on the planet for such a massive transfer fee is a monumental moment for American soccer.

He has arrived at Chelsea for a huge $73 million fee and will join them in the summer after being loaned back to Borussia Dortmund for the rest of the current campaign. The players remaining at Chelsea when Pulisic arrives in the summer will likely dictate if his move to England and the Premier League is a successful one.

Chelsea host Southampton on Wednesday (Watch live, 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at Stamford Bridge and our Premier League analysts will be breaking down Pulisic’s move.

Pro Soccer Talk understands that Pulisic has been told that some key attacking players at Chelsea will be moved on between now and this summer to allow him to become a key player for the west London club. That is crucial as Pulisic has been on the outside looking in at Dortmund in recent months due to a few small injuries and the amazing form of England’s Jadon Sancho in his place. In that sense, Dortmund getting the cash they have for a player with 18 months left on his contract is great business, and Pulisic will feel like he’s upgraded too.

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He is not the first youngster to arrive at the Blues with huge expectations placed upon him, as the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah and Romelu Lukaku all failed to break through (under Jose Mourinho, not someone who gives youth a chance might we add) and reinforced the notion that Chelsea is a no-go zone for top young players. With Chelsea’s revolving door policy with managers, it is also a risky place for a player to fall out of favor quickly.

Pulisic’s character has so far seen him deal comfortably with being the golden boy of American soccer and he will be unfazed by everything swirling around him in the Premier League. Aside from the huge marketing potential Chelsea will see in having the first global American superstar in their squad, they have paid this huge fee for a reason. They believe in Pulisic’s talents.

Despite that, getting into this Chelsea team will be tough for Pulisic to do on a weekly basis. At least at first.

If Eden Hazard does stay at Chelsea and doesn’t head to Real Madrid, Pulisic will be fighting with Willian and Pedro for the one remaining spot out wide. However, his arrival is likely to signal the departure of either Willian or Pedro, or maybe both, and even if one of their wingers remains Maurizio Sarri has played with three wingers going forward many times this season. Having Hazard as a false nine with Pulisic and Willian buzzing around him could work very well.

That said, you cannot brush aside Chelsea’s track record of stockpiling young talent and then seeing many of their careers stagnating at Stamford Bridge. Pulisic falls into a slightly different category, but academy products Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Nathaniel Chalboah, Nathan Ake, Tammy Abraham and many others have all had to move elsewhere (either on loan or permanently) to try and kick-start their careers.

The fact that Chelsea splashed this cash to sign Pulisic proves they are going to use him and he will be a key cog under Sarri. And that is perhaps the biggest plus for him signing for Chelsea. Sarri loves players who are able to possess the ball and press high up the pitch. That suits Pulisic’s game to a tee, and if Hazard stays this summer he will be able to link up and learn from one of the best players on the planet.

Even if Hazard leaves then Pulisic will be given a greater responsibility to be Chelsea’s main attacking threat. He may not score as many goals as he would like, but his creativity, pace and ability to play in multiple positions means he will slot into this Chelsea system seamlessly. Liverpool’s front three are going nowhere, and although Pulisic has a great relationship with Jurgen Klopp, a move to Anfield just didn’t seem like a good fit, at least right now.

If he gets the opportunity to play regularly, as he should do, then this move looks perfect for Pulisic.

La Liga: Real Madrid disappoint in home draw with Valladolid

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Liverpool bests wobbly Arsenal at Anfield | Player ratings ]

Real Madrid 1-1 Real Valladolid

With Barcelona losing on the season’s opening day, and now Real Madrid dropping points on Saturday to the side that finished 16th last season, the 2019 La Liga title race appears to be wide open.

Karim Benzema put Real Madrid 1-0 up after 82 minutes, and Los Blancos appeared to have avoided a disappointing start to their home campaign. However, Sergi Guardiola (no relation to Pep) had other ideas when he bagged an unlikely equalizer in the 88th minute.

Eden Hazard remained out with a thigh injury and the $113-million Belgian isn’t expected to make his Madrid debut until after the season’s international break which takes place the first full weekend of September. James Rodriguez made his return to Real Madrid after two seasons on loan to Bayern Munich, but the Colombian was subbed off after 57 minutes to be replaced by Vinicius Junior.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Celta Vigo 1-0 Valencia
Getafe 1-1 Athletic Bilbao
Osasuna 0-0 Eibar

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Mallorca v. Real Sociedad — 11 a.m. ET
Alaves v. Espanyol — 11 a.m. ET
Leganes v. Atletico Madrid — 1 p.m. ET
Barcelona v. Real Betis — 3 p.m. ET

Serie A: Juventus edge past Parma; Napoli-Fiorentina thriller (video)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ MORE: Liverpool bests wobbly Arsenal at Anfield | Player ratings ]

Parma 0-1 Juventus

Juventus’ quest to win a ninth straight Serie A title began with a win away to Parma on Saturday, but only just barely. Giorgio Chiellini scored the game’s only goal in the 21st minute, redirecting Alex Sandro’s half-volley past the goalkeeper after a corner kick wasn’t fully cleared. The victory sets Maurizio Sarri‘s side (Sarri wasn’t in charge of the team on Saturday as he continues to recover from pneumonia) on its way in a season that figures to feature multiple challengers to the throne, with Napoli and Inter Milan each strengthening their squads considerably in the summer. Sarri will also miss out on next weekend’s heavyweight clash between Juve and last season’s runners-up Napoli at Allianz Stadium.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a goal taken off the board after the video-assistant referee picked up on the narrowest of offside calls.

$85-million center back Matthijs de Ligt was named to the bench, where he remained for the entirety of 90 minutes, with veterans Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci preferred to the 20-year-old. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon joined De Ligt on the bench in his return to Juve after spending last season at Paris Saint-Germain.

Fiorentina 3-4 Napoli

Napoli’s 4-3 victory over Fiorentina was a truly wild ride. There is no other way to describe it.

Napoli went from a goal down inside the first 10 minutes, to 2-1 up just before halftime, level at 2-2 in the 52nd minute, 3-2 ahead just four minutes later, level at 3-3 in the 65th, and finally 4-3 ahead just two minutes later.

Dries Mertens (38th), Lorenzo Insigne (43rd and 67th) and Jose Callejon (56th) got the goals for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

Hirving Lozano, who joined Napoli for $44 million on Friday, wasn’t yet available to make his debut but will only add another level of quality to what has proven to be an already impressive attacking unit.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Udinese v. AC Milan — 12 p.m. ET
Roma v. Genoa — 2:45 p.m. ET
Sampdoria v. Lazio — 2:45 p.m. ET
Cagliari v. Brescia — 2:45 p.m. ET
Verona v. Bologna — 2:45 p.m. ET
SPAL v. Atalanta — 2:45 p.m. ET
Torino v. Sassuolo — 2:45 p.m. ET

Messi to miss Barcelona’s next game; Suarez, Dembele also out

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi has been left out of Barcelona’s squad to face Real Betis in the Spanish league on Sunday.

[ MORE: Liverpool bests wobbly Arsenal at Anfield | Player ratings ]

Messi returned to training this week after recovering from a right calf injury picked up in preseason, but the Argentina star was not included in the list of players available for the team’s home opener at Camp Nou Stadium.

He missed the team’s 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the league opener last weekend.

Coach Ernesto Valverde is also without forwards Luiz Suarez and Ousmane Dembele because of injuries.

Klopp preens after Liverpool win: ‘Our identity is intensity’

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Liverpool and Arsenal entertained on Saturday, with the Reds earning a deserved 3-1 win and keeping the Gunners off-kilter for most of the day.

Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds pushed the tempo for much of the match and overcame some wobbly moments at the back to cruise to the win.

[ MORE: Liverpool-Arsenal recap | 3 things ]

They were tough, fiery, and deserved every bit of the win. And Klopp knows it, and knows that you know it. From the BBC:

“Our identity is intensity, and we showed that today. … We were a bit surprised by their system. We couldn’t know that they would play a diamond, but we switched things around and coped very well.

“The last 10 minutes I saw the possession – 53 to 47 or something like that – but over 80 minutes it must have been completely different. For 80 minutes we were completely in charge of the game. We are not Disneyland, we do not need to excite everyone in every second.”

This guy is an absolute beauty. Even those who despise him have to admit that we are lucky to have him.

Klopp’s men lapsed late and allowed a Lucas Torreira goal. The defense has been wobbly over the first three weeks of the season, and preseason was just as rough. Klopp would’ve loved a clean sheet for the first time since the first week of preseason, but he’s happy with the performance.

“I would have loved to have it, but things can happen. They’re a quality side, Arsenal. I didn’t see that many chances, but we were really in charge today and completely deserved the win.”

Liverpool is off to Burnley next, and then will enjoy the international break.