Christian Pulisic is paying the price for his versatility at Chelsea says Shaun Wright-Phillips, with the United States international doing “well rather than excellent” because he has been unable to nail down a set position in Thomas Tuchel’s plans.
The USMNT star moved to Stamford Bridge from Borussia Dortmund in 2019 and has made more than 100 appearances for the Blues, becoming a history-making Champions League winner in the process.
He has however suffered his fair share of injuries while also being shifted around in the current campaign to provide cover in a false nine striking role and as a right wing-back.
- Man Utd more reliant on Ronaldo than ever before after Haaland and Nunez transfer fails
- A flexible, big-game grafter: Jesus is the answer to Arsenal's prayers
- Bellingham 2023! Can Liverpool really afford to wait for the ‘perfect’ midfield signing?
- Hit or miss? Rating the Brazilians to have played for Arsenal
Is there more to come from Pulisic?
At 23 and with a leading role as captain of his country, Wright-Phillips remains a big fan of Pulisic with the former Blues winger telling GOAL in association with Lord Ping: “That tends to be the way of football when you can play a lot of positions, you just do well rather than excellent.
"I can imagine that if he just played in his normal position, you would see why they bought him in the first place.”
He added on the fight an American forward faces for recognition in west London: “I wouldn’t say there is too much competition because I’m a big fan of Pulisic. I love the way he plays, I love how dangerous he looks.
“The thing he has found tough is staying fit. When he has gone into great form, he will get an injury and then it puts him back a bit, players come in and they are in form and the manager can’t drop them.
"He has got everything that people believed was there, it’s just that every time he has got on that roll and started becoming that Christian Pulisic that everyone wants to see, he breaks down again.”
Does Lukaku have a future at Chelsea?
While Pulisic remains part of the long-term thinking at Chelsea, questions continue to be asked of whether Romelu Lukaku will see the second spell with the club cut as short as his first.
Wright-Philips said: “I’m not sure how he’s going to handle or react to it. We can see that it hasn’t gone as well as he wanted it to go.
“When he first started in his first game against Arsenal, he was like a man possessed and he was phenomenal in that game – Chelsea in general were.
"Since that game, Chelsea have played completely different. I don’t think that has benefited Rom. Either they go back to playing that way or Rom changes his game. It’s more of a sit down between him and the manager and come to an understanding of how they are going to play and what he needs to do better, and then move on from there.
“For me, he always wanted to play for Chelsea. I don’t think he would not want to play for them.
“It’s just, in the games that he has come on, he has had chances and the Rom we all know would put those chances away. You can see sometimes that he is a bit low on confidence. Some players are like that and maybe just need an arm round them and a little bit of belief.
"[Timo] Werner went through it and played every game regardless of how many times he missed chances or didn’t play well. With Rom, for some reason, that has not really been happening.”
Will Hudson-Odoi leave Chelsea?
Another linked with a move away from Chelsea is Callum Hudson-Odoi, with the 21-year-old winger struggling to find form and fitness.
Wright-Phillips says the highly-rated home-grown product has some big career calls to make in the near future.
“It’s always been an interesting one,” Wright-Phillips said. “I would put him and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in that same bracket, where they have just been on the periphery all this time – in, out – they have never gone in and stayed in for a run of games, especially not in the positions they want to play.
“They need to both decide what they want to do. They should both have two or three full seasons under their belt and that would have helped them to mature, and we would possibly have seen the players that we always thought were there, but to have one out on loan and then go back to Chelsea, they just stay there and do what they are doing now.”