With the stroke of a pen, Christian Pulisic made history, becoming the most-expensive American soccer player in history.
Pulisic’s $73 million move from Borussia Dortmund to Chelsea absolutely smashed the old transfer fee record for an American. In 2017, Wolfsburg paid Hertha Berlin around $22 million to sign centerback John-Anthony Brooks. Four years prior, Sunderland paid around $13 million to sign Jozy Altidore from AZ Alkmaar.
For Chelsea alone, it’s the club’s third-highest transfer fee paid after goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga ($91 million) and Alvaro Morata ($75 million).
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.
While the transfer market has seemingly gone bananas since Neymar’s $263 million transfer to Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea clearly see a future star in the making in Pulisic, and surely a player that can lead their marketing campaigns in the U.S. for many years to come. In becoming the most expensive American transfer, Pulisic has placed a target on his back, one that he’ll have to overcome, especially after an up-and-down season at Dortmund.
It will be an incredible challenge for Pulisic in England. The physical league has been known to wear down some players coming in from abroad, and the tabloid newspapers are quick to turn on players after a bad performance or two, with some delighting in cutting a player down. In addition, Maurizio Sarri has stuck with his starting XI for most of the year, and it’s unclear exactly who Pulisic would push out of the first eleven. Only if Eden Hazard makes a long-rumored move to Real Madrid does this move really make sense in the short-term.
However, the move comes at a great time for both Dortmund, Chelsea, and Pulisic. Dortmund receives a very large transfer fee that it can invest in improving the squad further or providing raises and Chelsea beats out other suitors to an exciting attacking prospect. Meanwhile, Pulisic has his future settled for the next five seasons in London, starting in the summer. One has to wonder though whether the fee would be even bigger if the U.S. Men’s National Team had made the 2018 World Cup, and Pulisic had a chance once more to star on the world’s stage.
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Pulisic’s move is likely to also be a boon to young American players who are either already in Europe, playing in MLS, or considering their options. Pulisic went from unknown on the world stage to a multi-million dollar star within the space of a few years, and we could see other Americans following in his footsteps, hoping to strike gold as he’s done. For all of his misgivings, former USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s insistence on getting his young squad to play their club matches in Europe was the right move, as we’ve seen with Pulisic’s growth in Dortmund’s academy.
Perhaps Weston McKennie, Josh Sargent or Timothey Weah could be in line for big money moves in the next year or two, should they continue to improve and perform.
On Wednesday, Pulisic set the marker down of what could be for an American. We’ll see how many follow and reach that mark, if not overtake it.