Borussia Dortmund announced today that they have sold attacking midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Manchester United. On the overall grand landscape of the soccer world this is a pretty big move as Mkhitaryan has been one of the better players in the Bundesliga for the last two years and now joins Jose Mourinho's revolution (and let's face it, complete rebuild) at United.
Obviously from an American soccer perspective this transfer could have significant implications on our little corner of the universe, as well. Everyone's favorite American prodigy, Christian Pulisic, looks to be in line for a bump up in playing time this season with this move, at least as it stands currently. The Armenian star usually played down the right wing for Dortmund and that's one of the spots that Pulisic can play.
So, now that a big time attacking player has left Dortmund will Pulisic see an increase in minutes? Logic tells us that a Champions League team has to be deep. There's no doubt that Thomas Tuchel and his staff will bring in a replacement for Mkhitaryan, but that player will likely not be on the same level and surely won't carry the same prestige to the club. Thus, making Pulisic's bid for more time realistic.
You see, Dortmund have a vested interest in making sure Pulisic's development comes along smoothly. While I don't have a keen sense of their entire setup, it's probably safe to say that the young Yank is their most valuable homegrown player. If they can build him up into a star, then his value will skyrocket. And Dortmund are not like most big clubs that waste money left and right buying expensive players. They make their bank by developing talent and selling at peak value. Pulisic will likely be their next project.
The club have already brought in two promising starlets to compete with Pulisic. 19-year-old Ousmane Dembele scored 12 goals for Rennes last season in Ligue 1. He joined BVB in May and is an attacking midfielder and/or winger. Then there is Turkish starlet Emre Mor who joined from FC Nordsjælland. Both are promising and should push Pulisic, but don't provide the permanent road block that Mkhitaryan did.
While this transfer likely won't see Pulisic inserted into the starting lineup immediately, it will definitely bump him up the depth chart and offer him more opportunity for minutes than had Mkhitaryan stayed at Dortmund.
Competition is great for young players, but having a proven star be moved out of the way of Pulisic will definitely help him in the long run. Someone will inevitably be signed to provide that battle for minutes, but thankfully it's highly unlikely to be a player as good as the departing one.