USMNT fans will have been thinking about one thing after Maurizio Sarri left as Chelsea’s manager to take charge of Juventus on Sunday.
How does this impact Christian Pulisic?
Pulisic, 20, signed for Chelsea in January for $73 million and was then loaned back to Borussia Dortmund for the rest of last season. He is now officially a Blues player and even though Sarri was initially a little bemused about the signing, he had recently spoken positively about Pulisic’s arrival.
But now those words do not matter. Sarri is out.
Chelsea legend and a member of their coaching staff, Carlo Cudicini, has also been speaking about the high hopes Chelsea have for Pulisic as they hope he fill the considerable void after Eden Hazard departed for Real Madrid, but it all hinges on who the new manager is.
If, as expected, Chelsea legend Frank Lampard arrives as their new manager in the next few weeks, this could change things drastically for Pulisic at Chelsea.
On the face of it, Pulisic working under Lampard day in, day out would be wonderful for his development. Having one of the best attacking midfielders in history to learn from would be the perfect fit. Who better to teach Pulisic about timing runs into the box and when to shoot and pass in the final third?
But with Lampard and his assistant coach Jody Morris (former U-18 head coach in Chelsea’s academy) eager to give other youngsters from the academy the chance to shine, Pulisic could be the odd man out in some regards.
With a heavy emphasis to play youngsters next season, whoever the manager is, here’s what a Chelsea ‘young XI’ could look like post-Sarri and maybe under Lampard.
Chelsea’s young starting XI, 2019-20 season
—– Kepa —–
— Ampadu — Timori — Rudiger —
—- James —- Loftus-Cheek —- Mount —- Emerson —-
—- Pulisic —- Abraham —- Hudson-Odoi —-
The team above would have 10 players 24 years old or younger in the starting lineup, with Rudiger the eldest at 26. The lineup above is drastic and leaves out experienced players like Cesar Apzilicueta, David Luiz and N'Golo Kante, Olivier Giroud and Jorginho, but it shows you what the future could look like at Chelsea. Not bad, right?
Of course, Pulisic’s quality on the pitch will be the determining factor of whether or not he plays regularly. But there’s a sense that if Lampard and Morris are in charge, they could favor the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi and Loftus-Cheek (when they are back fit) in attacking midfield positions over Pulisic. There is also the case that neither Willian or Pedro seem likely to move on this summer now that the transfer ban, barring a last-minute reprieve from the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), will be confirmed.
Throw in the likes of Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount returning from hugely successful loan spells at Aston Villa and Derby County last season, and there’s even more competition for places in the attacking lineup for Pulisic to get past.
Look, he’s been in this situation before at Borussia Dortmund and handled it pretty well. His quality is undoubted and Chelsea will give him plenty of chances to prove his worth over the next 12 months as they have to work with the squad of players they have and cannot add any new faces.
But Sarri’s possession-based style suited Pulisic’s game well. Now, that will change, and Lampard’s more direct, counter-attacking will take over if he takes charge. Pulisic can certainly launch counters and thrive on the break with his pace, trickery and direct running, but some of Chelsea’s other wide attacking midfielders have more out-and-out pace than he does. That could be a problem for him.
Regardless of what happens with Chelsea’s transfer ban this summer, just look at this lineup below and what is their strongest XI, in our opinion, for next season. Plus, the players they can have on the bench is pretty mind boggling.
Not a bad 35-man roster for a club in the middle of a managerial and transfer crisis…
Chelsea’s strongest possible XI, 2019-20 season
—– Kepa —–
—- Azpilicueta — Rudiger — Luiz — Emerson —-
—– Jorginho —– Kante —-
—- Hudson-Odoi —- Barkley —- Pulisic —-
—– Giroud —–
Rest of the squad
Marco Van Ginkel