September 25, 2022

Christian Pulisic
Image: Getty Images

The stages of development are not linear and not all of the stages as you move along the line are enjoyable. As the USMNT has more and more players making their mark in the biggest leagues in the world, one step before they are the main stars of the biggest teams is that they are going to be mixed up a bit. what they, or the next generation, stands out as unavoidable.

Christian Pulisic, the USA captain and still probably his best player (certainly in the offensive zones) is now in the mixer.

Chelsea reportedly close to bringing in Raheem Sterling of Manchester City. It won’t be for pocket money, given that Sterling is still only 27 (one way or another) and very efficient. With Erling Haaland’s arrival at Eastlands, City don’t really need false nines anymore. Which means that all the players who have filled this role in the last two seasons – Sterling, Phil Foden, Bernardo Silva, Jack Grealish to name a few – are being sent back to the wide forward positions, creating a sort of dead end. Sterling has dropped down the depth chart for a few seasons, but always seems to be coming back into the lineup for their biggest games of the year. But he wasn’t about to have his contract renewed after this upcoming season, and City are cashing in before he left for free.

Sterling’s best position is on the left side of the front line, whether it’s a 4-3-3 or a 3-4-3. Which happens to be Pulisic’s best position. Whether or not Pulisic had a proper chance of locking down that spot in the top 11 for good basically depends on who you ask. He made just 13 Premier League starts last season, some of them for health reasons, but was available for many more. He’s made four more in the Champions League, and there are quite a few Chelsea fans who squint and turn purple at the slightest mention of him. its miss in madrid arrived. Wherever you sit, Pulisic’s attacking stats – shots per 90, shots on target per 90, goals per shot and the like – rank below most other Chelsea forwards. And together, Chelsea’s attack last year was seen as lacking the verve to keep up with City or Liverpool. It doesn’t add to all the niceness of a picture.

Whatever the excuse (the first being Pulisic struggling to connect with Romelu Lukaku at the start of the year like everyone else did), it’s clear manager Thomas Tuchel doesn’t want to hear it. . Not only are Sterling a day or two away from officially joining, Chelsea are also rumored to be hot after one or the other. Raphine of Leeds Where Richarlison of Everton. It’s clear that Tuchel wants more players looking like real wingers, which Pulisic really isn’t. Pulisic has tried to be the good soldier in the past, playing fullback or false nine when asked, but hasn’t done very well either. He has his place, and it seems like it’s closing in on him being something other than a team player.

Pulisic isn’t under as much pressure as some other Yanks who might not play regularly for their club. If he is healthy, Pulisic will start in Qatar no matter how many minutes he accumulates at club level. But he won’t want to go to Qatar rusty and lacking in feeling and fitness, which a player can only get during playing time.

But moving to another club also comes with risks. He knows the Chelsea manager, knows the tactics, knows his teammates, and even though his time on the pitch is limited, the fit is clear. None of these things are easily found elsewhere. Staying in England would almost certainly mean a resignation. Does Pulisic want to withdraw from a Champions League club? Where would he go? Newcastle have a left striker in Allan Saint-Maximin. West Ham are also supplied from this side. He would be a perfect fit for Brighton, but can they afford his fee and salary? Would he even want to go there? Their style suits him down to the ground, but it’s not a Brighton-style move.

The stranger has equally risky options. He was mentioned as a counterweight in a deal for Juve’s Matthijs de Ligt, but it’s a needle to thread and Juve just want the money (rumored to be over $100m). There is now a Pablo Dybala-shaped hole there, but carving out a regular role in Turin is no easier than in west London. Lazio could probably use a striker from the left side but it hasn’t been mentioned. Again, Pulisic’s salary (rumoured to be just $10m a year) and the ever-heavy transfer fee Chelsea would like puts him out of reach for many mid-tier Spanish and German clubs unless he doesn’t want to take a pay cut.

Pulisic isn’t the only USMNT stalwart whose immediate future is a mess. Tyler Adams could be leaving Leipzig. Sergino Dest is not locked in to stay at Barcelona as they look for a way to shake some loose change to try and fix their finances in the event of a fire. Chris Richards, most likely right now to partner Walker Zimmerman in central defense against Wales in the World Cup opener, is the subject of rampant transfer speculation. Looking around, it’s hard to know exactly who among the locks to make Qatar’s roster will play regularly. Jesus Ferreira in Dallas, that’s for sure. Brenden Arronson will certainly have a good chance at Leeds with manager Jesse Marsch. Yunus Musah is likely to be a key cog for Valencia. Jedi Robinson for Fulham as they jump to the Premier League? Walker Zimmerman will play every game for Nashville, but that’s about it. The forward position is still a mess, so most of the backbone for the United States could be in and out of lineups leading up to the tournament. Zack Steffen appears to be leaving the Championship with Middlesbrough to play regularly. How prepared the championship is for the World Cup can be debated, but at least he will play and we will see. Can the same be said of Matt Turner at Arsenal?

For the United States, this is part of growth.