At one point this season, Christian Pulisic‘s biggest critic was his boss, Frank Lampard.
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Slowly but surely, though, the narrative changed, primarily because the 21-year-old American began to shed off the immense pressure that came with his record move from Germany. As he began to contribute on a positive level for Chelsea, the talk surrounding him began to lighten up.
And just days later after the Chelsea legend’s praising comments on the U.S. men’s national team captain, Pulisic – with zero Premier League goals to his name – erupted for a perfect hat trick in the Blues’ 4-2 victory over Burnley, the second-ever by an American in the Premier League.
After the impeccable performance, Lampard – unlike in many prior situations – was full of praise for Pulisic.
“I’m absolutely delighted for him,” Lampard said following the match. “A lot of talk around Christian for the big price tag, the fact he’s quite rightly a star in his country and plays for the US so well and captain of, so you get asked questions about it. I’m delighted to see him do that today. I know the backstory and the pressures of a move like that. I also know he played for his country through the summer and had one week break this summer to come back after that.”
“Then you get the pressure of can you settle in the Premier League, so I’ve tried to deal with it in the way I see best which is to give him minutes,” the 41-year-old added. “He’s played games this season already, but I’ve also got competition in that area. I need them all on edge, I need them all trying to perform when they get in the team and play. Christian has been doing it recently, he’s been doing it from the bench. He fully deserved his start today and it was a fantastic match-winning performance.”
As the price tag shows, it’s never been about the attacker not having the quality to perform in the Premier League – his perfect hat trick performance at Turf Moor debunks that theory entirely. The big talking point around Pulisic since his arrival at Chelsea has been his transition to the coveted league’s pace, physicality, level of play, and his ability to convince Lampard on the training ground and during his cameos that he’s a better choice than the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi, Mason Mount and Willian.
According to Lampard, he’s been doing just that recently.
“I know what a good player he is, I see that closehand, Lampard said. “There are things he has to learn and improve because he’s just turned 21, it’s the same with all young players. There are things that he’s going to work on and I think he knows it and he knows that I’m driving that daily in training. The way he’s trained in the past few weeks, and the impact he’s had when playing, he’s said to everyone ‘here I am’ and what talent he does have. I’m really pleased for him today. It’s what we need from all our attacking players; to be a threat, to play like that, have a ruthless edge about how they finish and he showed the full package today.”
On Saturday, Chelsea’s youngest player ever to score a Premier League hat trick dazzled from start to finish. His quick feet, sharp turns and slithering moves were too much for Burnley’s backline and Nick Pope.
It’s now up to him if he’ll grab and run with the opportunities that will come as a result of his historic performance. After all, unlike in instances before, he does have Lampard on his side now.
“Exactly,” the former Chelsea midfielder responded when asked about the effectiveness of Pulisic’s body swerves. “He’s got that and when you talk about the Premier League one thing there is is physicality, particularly at places like Burnley. When he moves the ball so quickly like he can do, he can cause a lot of problems. It’s a great thing to watch when people have balance like that. The first goal when he waits, then a step over and then moves away again from the player, that stuff is brilliant. I hope it gives him the confidence that it should do, and I’m pretty sure it will do, that will do him great going forward.”