Christian Pulisic: Soccer Star with Lucrative Deal

A $73.1 million transfer fee. The largest sum of money ever paid to acquire an American soccer player.

What player could possibly be worth this much? One answer: Christian Pulisic. Most U.S. men’s soccer fans are already familiar with the 20-year-old American player. Now that he’s making world headlines with his expensive transfer to Chelsea F.C., a legendary English soccer club with a rich history of numerous league championships, even more people will know his name. 

A Hershey, Pennsylvania native, Pulisic was always fond of soccer. His parents met while playing soccer at George Mason University. When Pulisic was seven years old, he spent almost a year in England learning how to play soccer. This was when a young Pulisic first caught a glimpse into England’s football-crazed scene. From rowdy riots to trademark chants inside the stadiums, the country’s undying love for the game fueled his ambitions to become a professional soccer player. “[Playing in England] really brought on my passion,” Pulisic explained to The Daily Mail. In an article for The Players’ Tribune, Pulisic wrote that “[soccer] is just this way of life in other countries. It’s part of the fabric of who they are.” Perhaps this explains why Pulisic is so eager to return to England. 

In addition to the charm of English football, Pulisic noted Chelsea’s style of play under new manager, Maurizio Sarri, as one of the main appeals for moving to the club. Pulisic praised Sarri’s system as one that effectively utilizes its side attackers. “It’s just a really good attacking, flowing system,” he told ESPN. “[Wingers] are also very free once they get up the field. So it’s just something that I like to see.” Additionally, Pulisic tweeted, “It’s a privilege to have signed for such a legendary club and I look forward to working hard towards being a contributor to their team of world-class players.”

Despite the lucrative contract, Pulisic is predicted to receive minimal playing time. U.S. Soccer Correspondent Jeff Carlisle projects that Eden Hazard, Willian Borges da Silva, and Pedro Eliezer Rodríguez Ledesma will keep their starting positions for at least the next two seasons. Pulisic will therefore likely spend most of his time on the bench. Chelsea’s plan is to develop Pulisic until he is ready to start and replace either Willian or Pedro. Director Marina Granovskaia said in an official statement, “At just 20, we believe he has the potential to become an important Chelsea player for many years to come.” The acquisition of Pulisic will also proliferate Chelsea’s influence in America, as more and more US fans will be exposed to English football. In other words, this transfer might just be a marketing strategy. CBS Sports reporter Roger Gonzalez explained, “He’ll have more games regularly on TV, which will raise his profile internationally, and this will certainly bring him even more into the spotlight in American sports.” 

Pulisic represents the future of USA soccer. As Gonzalez wrote, “Having a player make such a big move raises the profile of the United States national team as well and serves as an inspiration for all the young American soccer players that dream of becoming the next Pulisic.”

For now, he is focusing on finishing the season strong for his current club, Borussia Dortmund (BVB) in Germany. Pulisic has made more than 115 competitive appearances and scored 15 goals since his debut for BVB in January 2016. Even though his contract is almost up, Pulisic remarked, “I’m not just here to finish up my time and leave […] I want to play and help to make it a real special year for Dortmund.” At the national level, Pulisic has represented the U.S. in 23 games and has scored 9 goals. In 2017, he was named U.S. Male Soccer Player of the Year by coaches, other national team players, administrators, and media members.

As the most expensive American soccer player ever, Pulisic has a lot to live up to.