How can Pulisic improve from his current level of play? Secret revealed by Jay DeMerit: The gifted attacker has won the Champions League with his club and is the captain of his nation, but where can he improve to join the elite?
Christian Pulisic of Chelsea has made history as the first American to play in and win a Champions League final, and he has taken on the position of talismanic captain for the USMNT, but the 23-year-old still has room to grow as he strives to go from excellent to great.
That process began when he made the courageous decision to leave his nation for German giants Borussia Dortmund as a 16-year-old in February 2015 and has continued since then with a spectacular ascent to stardom.
Pulisic moved to Stamford Bridge in a big-money transfer in the summer of 2019, and he’s already made over 100 appearances for Premier League heavyweights, but he’s far from finished as he tries to carve out a regular role for the Blues and force his way into an elite group of talent at the top of a global game.
How can Pulisic up his game?
“I believe part of it isn’t his fault – he’s been playing in different spots since he can play all throughout the midfield and even up front,” said Jay DeMerit, who was speaking on behalf of Stake.com, the world’s top cryptocurrency betting platform and Watford FC’s major partner.
“If he is defined as ‘I am a center midfielder and this is where I play,’ he becomes almost more of a utility player who can fill in, but if he is defined as ‘I am a center midfielder and this is where I play,’ he may sometimes foster a greater and better degree of consistency.”
“Part of it is out of his control since he hasn’t been able to play in a consistent position due to being played out of position inconsistently.” That’s one of the problems he’s had.
“But then there’s the other side of it, which is just opportunity.” When he’s had his chances, he’s taken them — he’s scored huge goals when it counts, and he’s unquestionably the US national team’s leader.
“His consistency in those performances can only improve, and if he begins doing that, I feel he will regain some confidence in Chelsea to continue playing and become more of a leader in that group, which I believe is his ambition.”
“A lot of it has to do with his inconsistency in terms of where he plays, how he plays, and whether or not he begins.” That consistently breeds inconsistencies in who he is on the field of play. Just finding a little more consistency in that area would help him become a more consistent performer in the Premier League.”
Where do you think Pulisic can get better?
Pulisic has scored 23 goals in 105 appearances for Chelsea, including a Premier League hat-trick, although he has only scored double digits in a single season once in his career (2019-20).
During his time in England, he has also produced 14 assists to a collective cause, but given his undeniable skill, there is a notion that he might offer more in the final third.
When asked if Pulisic needed more end product to compete with the top left-sided attackers in the world, DeMerit answered, “I believe so.” His skill to produce can improve slightly.
He has demonstrated his ability to score huge goals when it matters — he comes off the bench and scores a goal. He rushes at people and generates opportunities when he plays on his preferred left side.
“A lot of the inconsistency stems from his playing time — does he start, does he not?” That can have a negative impact on someone’s mental health and self-confidence. He said that he was having trouble with it at the start of the season.
Is Pulisic in the right place?
With central striking and right wing-back positions occupied this season in Tuchel’s Chelsea system, concerns were raised as to whether Pulisic had a role to play in the long-term plans being drawn up in west London.
There have also been rumors that he may be enticed to go on, with Liverpool reportedly showing interest as they face the prospect of not being able to extend the contracts of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane beyond 2023.
When asked if Chelsea is the right club for Pulisic, and if Tuchel is the right manager for him, DeMerit – who was a member of the USA’s World Cup and Copa America squads – said: “It’s just about that relationship between manager and player that says ‘where do you want me to play, are you bringing me in because I’m a utility guy and you want me to do what I did at Chelsea?’
“Or is it a case of Mane departing and this is the player who will play consistently on the left this season?” ‘That may be an opportunity since that’s where I want to be,’ he would say. Normally, that’s a bond between the management and the athlete.”
Pulisic, who will play for Chelsea in the 2021-22 season, is now attempting to assist the United States in securing a spot in this year’s World Cup finals, with Gregg Berhalter’s squad possibly one positive result away from securing tickets to Qatar.