Christian Pulisic became a member of the Chelsea squad for the start of the 2019/20 season with an agreement first reached in January 2019 for his permanent transfer from Borussia Dortmund. He spent the remainder of that season on loan at the German club.
He joined Chelsea on a five-and-a-half year contract and became the third American player in our history after his international team-mate, Matt Miazga, and Roy Wegerle.
Agile, quick and two-footed, Pulisic is naturally a right winger but is also comfortable playing on the left or behind a striker.
Pulisic made his Chelsea debut as a sub in the defeat to Manchester United, and his first start followed a few days later as we were beaten by Liverpool on penalties in the Super Cup. He set up Olivier Giroud's opener and had a goal of his own ruled out for offside.
He started our next three leagues games before losing his place in the team for a while. Following the October international break, he played decisive passes in tight wins over Newcastle and Ajax having been brought off the bench. He was rewarded with a start at Burnley in our next league outing and responded in style, scoring a perfect hat-trick.
Full of confidence and incisiveness, Pulisic's knack for scoring or setting up goals showed no sign of relenting, as he displayed predatory instincts to net in wins over Watford and Crystal Palace. His dribbling skills also earned us a penalty in the 4-4 epic against Ajax and his first Champions League goal for the club helped secure a crucial draw at Valencia.
He had become a regular in the starting line-up by the end of 2019, but a combination of injury and the suspension of football during the Covid-19 pandemic meant he didn’t play between New Year’s Day and the first game of the restart in mid-June. His form was worth the wait, though, as he opened the scoring in our first two games of the restart, wins over Aston Villa and Manchester City.
He finished his first campaign in England as arguably Chelsea and the Premier League’s form player, underlined when he became the first American to score in an FA Cup final as he again got the first goal of the game, against Arsenal at Wembley. However, an injury meant an early end to his match and we struggled to maintain the same incisive attacks in his absence, as we missed out on finishing the season with a trophy.
The hamstring injury Pulisic sustained in the FA Cup final in our final game of 2019/20 ruled him out until the sixth fixture of the new campaign, when he came on as a late sub in a big home win over Crystal Palace.
A spate of appearances followed, and a first goal of the season away to Krasnodar, too, but then after feeling his hamstring in the warm-up at Burnley he was removed from the starting line-up. He was ruled out for another month.
In his second game back, against Leeds, he scored the game-sealing goal late on in front of a small crowd at the Bridge, and his fitness remained good for the rest of the season.
Lampard had used him on the right or left of the front three, but when his former Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel arrived in January, Pulisic more often than not found himself further infield in more of a 3-4-2-1 shape, initially used largely as an impact sub.
Having come off the bench, he set up the second goal of Tuchel’s reign, Marcos Alonso’s brilliant effort against Burnley, and Emerson’s breakaway strike at home to Atletico Madrid in March.
April brought three league goals in two games, West Brom and Crystal Palace his victims, with one of his strikes at Selhurst Park a near-replica of another lockdown effort in south London.
By this stage of the season he was hitting the heights he managed at the tail-end of the previous one, starting more often, and showcased his ability in the Champions League, too. In the ‘home’ leg against Porto, he was named man of the match having almost single-handedly taken the attack to our physical Portuguese opponents, drawing an astonishing 11 fouls, the most in a single game in the competition in the previous five years.
Then he netted a calm solo effort away to Real Madrid having sat Thibaut Courtois down. He did likewise in the second leg before teeing up Mason Mount to guarantee our place in Porto.
Pulisic looked lively off the bench in the FA Cup final, to no avail, and then again in European football’s showpiece fixture. It was a different outcome this time, though, and despite nearly bagging a second goal when shooting just wide, it mattered not. Pulisic had helped the Blues triumph and in the process written his name into American sporting history by becoming the first player from that nation to play in - and win - the Champions League final.
Born in Hershey, Pennsylvania, he is the son of two former footballers, and spent time in England as a child, where he played with Northamptonshire side Brackley Town before moving back to the States.
With a number of European clubs monitoring his progress, Pulisic signed for Dortmund as a 16-year-old in early 2015, quickly rising through the academy ranks to make his senior debut a year later.
His first half-season in the Bundesliga provided nine appearances and two goals, and he became a regular under Thomas Tuchel during the 2016/17 campaign, adding more than 60 league appearances over the next two years.
A series of minor injuries limited Pulisic’s playing time in the 2018/19 season, but his goals included a Champions League winner at Club Brugge and one in his final home game for Dortmund that helped take their ultimately unsuccessful Bundesliga challenge into the final day.
A USA international who also holds a Croatian passport, Pulisic was voted his country’s Player of the Year in 2017, and was their star player in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the summer of 2019 shortly before he joined up with the Chelsea squad. The States reached the final where they were beaten by Mexico. Pulisic was named the Young Player of the Tournament.
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