Christian Pulisic signed for Chelsea for $73,000,000 in January 2019.
An American was going to be on the 6th most valuable football clubs in the world. This club is in arguably the best League in the world and has won championships there and won Champions League. They spent big money and it was their big news for the transfer window, not a small move from an Academy or a trial. It was the kind of move and amount of money that said this was not just signing a young American for the marketing, but a move that said this kid can really play.
Quick math will you tell that this is unprecedented in US soccer history. He eclipsed the rest of the top five highest transfer fees in the list with a few Aston Martins to spare. Here’s the rest of the top 10 fees:
2. John Brooks, $19.4mm to Wolfsburg (2017)
3. Jozy Altidore, $12.86mm to Sunderland (2013)
4. Timothy Weah, $11.4mm to Lille (2019)
5. Michael Bradley, $10.07mm to Toronto FC (2014)
6. Clint Dempsey, $9.46mm to Tottenham (2012)
7. DeAndre Yedlin, $6.65mm to Newcastle (2016)
8. Maurice Edu, $5.92mm to Rangers (2008)
9. Claudio Reyna, $5.9mm to Sunderland (2001)
10. Tim Howard, $5.67mm to Everton (2007)
Pulisic’s move was questioned by many fans and pundits alike.
- Would he make it?
- Would he actually be used or loaned after a few weeks?
- Was he destined to get benched again and stunt his development?
Debates rained down on the value of the move for Chelsea.
- Why would they spend so much on an unproven talent?
- Was this just a marketing move?
- Was this the best investment when they might have a year long transfer ban?
I didn’t care about the questions or the answers. I was extremely excited and confident that the move, no matter what Christian did was a good one. It would help young US players who wanted to go overseas get attention and opportunities. Teams in Germany, Holland and others in Europe who would want to sell young star players had a new gold mine of talent the United States. If I’m completely honest, I wasn’t sure how he’d do. I thought maybe he’d break in and be a useful role player for them. That alone would have been good and he could make a solid career of making himself useful.
Then Pulisic did something truly special.
After being benched in the 60th minute for his country against Canada, a game his team would go on to lose almost minutes after he was subbed off. He comes back to his club, where he was under pressure and questions and does this:
This will change the game. Pulisic’s transfer to Chelsea was already historic and was going to change things for the USMNT, but to add a hattrick and several more key performances is going to shred the hinges off the doors.
I expect 2020 to be an even larger rise of young Americans transferred to Europe. Already we’re seeing some young Americans avoid signing MLS contracts to try their skills in Europe first. Not only has the beautiful game become more popular in the US, but the talent and interest is increasing. European teams wanting to gain market share will be watching all of this and wondering who might be the next Christian Pulisic. That 2019 January window already included a ton of US players.
American Transfers In Europe
- Christian Pulisic, 20, Borussia Dortmund to Chelsea ($73M), back on loan to BVB
- Timothy Weah, 18, PSG to Celtic (loan)
- Tyler Adams, 19, New York Red Bulls to RB Leipzig (free transfer)
- Matt Miazga, 23, Nantes to Reading (on loan from Chelsea)
- Keaton Parks, 21, Benfica B to NYCFC (loan)
- Chris Richards, 18, FC Dallas to Bayern Munich ($1.5M)
- Taylor Booth, 17, Real Salt Lake to Bayern Munich (undisclosed fee)
- Matt Polster, 25, Chicago Fire to Rangers (undisclosed fee)
- Khiry Shelton, 25, Sporting KC to SC Paderborn (free transfer)
- Caleb Stanko, 25, SC Freiburg to FC Cincinnati ($230,000)
- Ian Harkes, 23, D.C. United to Dundee United (free transfer)
- Andrew Gutman, 22, Indiana University to Celtic (free transfer), on loan to
- Manny Perez, 19, NC State University to Celtic (free transfer), on loan to North Carolina FC
Interest has only continued to increase in young American players and there are several knocking on the door that big clubs are looking at. Currently, Americans are all over top tables in European leagues.
Unrelated, but still important Sergiño Dest turning down interest from the Netherlands and choosing to play for the US was a huge decision that benefits US soccer. It may influence other dual nation players that came up with Dest. John Roche put a piece together here mentioning many of the current upcoming players, including Paxton Pomykal, Gio Reyna and Chris Gloster.
In August 2019 MLS Commissioner, Don Garber, identified his league as a development league and their focus being on producing more young talent that could be sold internationally. Tyler Adams successful move to RB Leipiz and leading the Bundesliga along with Miguel Almirón scoring his first goal for Newcastle after his $27mm purchase one year ago was a step in the right direction in 2019 and I expect much more impact from the academies and interest internationally.
Christian Pulisic is the key cog in the entire wheel . He’s had some great games so far this season for Chelsea, but still has a long road ahead of him. He needs to establish himself for an entire season in the Premier League, weather transfer windows and increased competition for minutes. He’s going to have to follow this season with another and another and still has to prove he can withstand the grueling Premier and Champions League schedules of top clubs in Europe.
There are a lot of reasons to close the year being discouraged – the results of some of the games (losing to Mexico twice, first loss to Canada since 1985), MLS player bias, poor interaction with Latino fans and players, a federation covered in black marks from NY Times, Glass Door and the Wall Street Journal, a ton of holes in the coaching circles and questions of nepotism from the top.
Christian Pulisic’s year can turn that view around. His incredible success to date, regardless of how he does moving forward is still historic. Clint Dempsey led the way, first to get a hattrick and double digit goals, he really got the US talent on England’s radar. He’s another key piece of history and may be part of the reason Chelsea had confidence in their young American.
What Dempsey did though cannot be compared to the chants of U-S-A that rained down at Stamford Bridge. That will be a lasting memory in many fans and the young American who did it at Chelsea should be proud of his contribution to American soccer. We are watching US soccer history being written, 2019 will be a banner year in the history books.
Reyna recently came out and said Pulisic was an inspiration for him and many young players. Saying he was key in helping the USYNT players believe it could happen.
‘He made us believe we could do this’ – Reyna hails Pulisic as inspiration for American players.https://sports.yahoo.com/made-us-believe-could-reyna-032327201.html