It goes without saying, but Christian Pulisic is the ‘golden goose’ when it comes to American soccer players.
While the sting of not playing in this year’s World Cup is palpable, supporters of the stars and stripes can rest assured that Pulisic is on the cusp of being the first world class player to ever hail from the United States.
Sorry Landon and Clint, but this is unequivocal.
We could go on and on about Pulisic’s vast accomplishments at such a young age. He became the youngest player to ever score two goals in the Bundesliga. Pulisic was also the youngest non-German to have scored in the league (both done at the age of 17).
Additionally, he’s set multiple records for the United States National Team — including being the youngest Yank to poach a goal in the World Cup qualifying, and also being the youngest player in general to score for the program (also both accomplished at 17 years old).
During the failure of a World Cup qualifying process, the United States scored 17 goals. Pulisic — whether it be a goal or an assist — was involved in 12 of them.
At 19 years old, he’s widely regarded as one of the best teenage prospects in the world. The Pennsylvania native has concretely established himself as a starter in one of Germany’s most prestigious clubs. Whether it be in the Bundesliga or Champions League, Pulisic has already enjoyed considerable success.
While Borussia Dortmund has been instrumental in Pulisic’s development, it’s only a matter of time until a bigger club swoops in and purchases him. While a truly fantastic player, Pulisic holds immense value pertaining solely to his nationality.
The sport itself has steadily been growing in the United States. Television deals have made it more visible in the homes of millions. Youth participation numbers are also up across the board.
In order to put the cherry atop the proverbial cake, the last act of tangible growth on a macro level will include Pulisic moving to one of the world’s most prestigious clubs.
Pulisic is certainly good enough to feature for practically any side — at least as a reserve. Conventional wisdom states that Pulisic won’t make a move anywhere else unless he’s guaranteed first-team minutes. It’s a tricky balance for any young player wanting to further their career.
On one hand, the excitement of a big-name club could be overshadowed with more of an opportunity to play for a slightly-less iconic side.
Interestingly enough, Pulisic is likely on the cusp of having to deal with this dichotomy of a career choice.
Recent reports indicate that English giants Manchester United and Liverpool are poised to launch massive bids for Pulisic during the summer transfer window. This obviously would be a step-up for Pulisic in both level of play and exposure.
The EPL is the most-watched league in the world, and is easily the most televised one within the United States. Both Man U and Liverpool knows this. From a financial gains standpoint, possessing the star American player — who can actually compete at this level — is a major boon. Firmly situated as a global giant, Manchester United would have ‘PULISIC’ kits flying off the shelves at an unbelievable pace.
Manchester United does hold a certain level of cachet that Liverpool currently doesn’t have. That’s not to say Liverpool isn’t decorated in its own right — though much of The Reds’ glory stems from decades ago.
From a fit standpoint, it may be a completely different story. There’s considerably less pressure on Pulisic should he opt to play for Liverpool. Stylistically, the expressive 4-3-3 also caters to his game much more. Manager Jürgen Klopp was responsible for bringing Pulisic to Dortmund in the first place. Now at Liverpool, there’s no question that he’d want to reunite with the starlet.
The top three is entrenched — with Sadio Mané on the left, Roberto Firmino in the center, and Mohammed Salah on the right. With Coutinho leaving for Barcelona, the space tucked right behind Firmino is currently vacant. While more of a natural winger, Pulisic has proven capable as a roaming No. 10. His familiarity with Klopp would also indicate a smooth transition into a side fighting for a Champions League spot.
As for United, José Mourinho’s side currently sits second in the EPL table. Pulisic is said to have grown up a supporter of the side — which comes as no surprise given Man U’s former dominance under Sir Alex Ferguson during Pulisic’s informative years.
Mourinho must’ve been Italian in another life — largely because he employs a tactically-heavy scheme rooted in defensive football. Though effective, it’s not an aesthetically pleasing style of soccer. Pulisic likely wouldn’t be given the same license to create in a free-flowing fashion. Even then, there’s no guarantee he’d have a starting spot within the squad.
He’ll be battling the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young, and Juan Mata for playing time. As we saw when Mkhitaryan made the leap from Dortmund to the Merseyside, things aren’t always seamless when playing for the defensive-minded Mourinho.
Speaking of Mkhitaryan, it’s been rumored that he’d like a return back to Dortmund — a place where he also saw immense success. In a potential deal for Pulisic, the Armenian international could be used as a bargaining chip.
It will be fascinating to see how this all shakes out. Will Pulisic opt to enter a high-profile situation with less certainty, or will he go to a place with slightly less expectations — though more familiarity?
Regardless, the spotlight will be shining down brightly on this exciting young talent.
Image Source: Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports; Report to Pulisic news