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Sunday Cup-o-American Soccer: should we be worried about Christian Pulisic?

He seems to be injured a lot lately

Barnsley v Chelsea: The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

He’s the most talented player male player the US has ever produced and he’s only 22 years-old. In large part the hopes and dreams of the USMNT rest on his young shoulders, but along with that comes what seems like a weekly if not daily bout of concern regarding his health and status with his club. Obviously, the €64 million price tag that brought the winger to Chelsea, and the fact that he wears the no. 10 kit for the club, show the expectations that went with bringing him to London. It’s fair to say that thus far, he has not met what would be expected of such a move.

Of course, Chelsea has experienced some tumult since he arrived, but the hiring of former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel raised hopes that Pulisic would begin showing his best in London. Yet again, injuries have sidelined him leading some to ask if Chelsea might explore a transfer for the American. ESPN reports that Tuchel wants to keep Pulisic, but hedged on guaranteeing that would happen.

The article quotes Tuchel discussing the potential and expectations for Pulisic saying, “He proved in many weeks that he has the level to be a Chelsea regular player, to have a big impact in this club. It’s a challenge now to hold this level, to improve and to maintain the level and keep improving.” Tuchel went on to describe Pulisic being held out of training due to a minor calf issue to avoid an injury cycle like he experienced with his hamstring.

However, this is where the concerns start creeping in. Pulisic is entering his prime years, Chelsea brought him in to be the key player for the team. At this point his talent isn’t holding him back, it’s his ability to stay healthy. That factor will be a key for determining what course his career takes in the coming years. It seemed like he was on a trajectory to becoming one of the best players in the EPL if not the world, but he can only live up to that potential by playing.

At this point that potential is not only being doubted online, it’s at least being acknowledged by his club manager to some extent in his comments about the challenge of improving and maintaining a high level of performance.

What this means for the USMNT is unknown. Pulisic hasn’t worn the Stars and Stripes for some time, but 2021 will be a critical year for the team. Not only is there World Cup qualifying, but the Nations League and Gold Cup will be tournaments for the team to show what it is capable of. To truly gauge where the team stands going into 2022, its best player needs to be healthy and available to contribute. At this point, it seems like that’s far from guaranteed, and that concern may turn to reality by the summer.