Jesse Marsch says that he had a discussion with Frank Lampard last season that left him with the impression that the Chelsea boss didn't rate Christian Pulisic because he was American.
Pulisic signed for Chelsea in January 2019, just a few months before Lampard was named as the club's replacement for manager Maurizio Sarri.
The winger got off to a slow start at Stamford Bridge but, by the end of the season, he was a vital piece of Lampard's attacking unit.
Pulisic was arguably Chelsea's biggest contributor after the restart before suffering an injury in the Blues' FA Cup final loss to Arsenal.
Marsch says that Lampard told him last season that he wasn't sure if Pulisic was tactically ready for the Premier League, with the RB Salzburg boss then pointing to Pulisic's development with Borussia Dortmund in response.
The American manager says that Lampard's initial perception is just another example of managers underrating American players' tactical ability, with most U.S. men's national team players being described as more hard-working than tactically,smart.
"The perception in Europe, mostly, is that the American player is willing to run, willing to fight, has good mentality, but technically they're not very gifted and tactically they're not very aware and their experiences aren't very big," Marsch told Extratime Radio. "But we're seeing that change. We're seeing more and more of these players develop themselves.
"Even Frank Lampard, when I spoke to him in preseason a year ago now, I was talking to him about having Christian Pulisic and he was kind of like, 'Yeah, he's got a lot to learn so we'll see how he does'. I said to him, 'Listen, he was at Dortmund, and they had a high level of tactical thinking, of playing, and he was very successful'.
"He was considered one of the best young players in Germany and that's in a group of players with Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Joshua Kimmich, these kinds of players. He was in a group with those players, and it's not just because he was talented but it was because he understood the tactics and understood how to fit in the game and he was developing a real astute way of how to play.
"I could see right away that Frank Lampard's idea of Christian Pulisic was shaped a lot by the fact that he was American and not that his football education came a lot from what has happened in Germany. Since then, I think Lampard has learned that Pulisic is a lot better than he gave him credit for.
"Christian had to fight for that, which is the American quality, but he's a damn good player. Same with Gio Reyna, same with Tyler Adams, same with Weston McKennie.
"All of these players are now starting to show, born and raised in America, that they're not only big talents, but they're also more refined players that many think. Brenden Aaronson will show that when he's here and I think more examples will change the perception of what the American player is."
Marsch's RB Salzburg are set to kickstart their Champions League campaign on Wednesday as they take on Lokomotiv Moscow.
Pulisic, Lampard and Chelsea, meanwhile, are set to host Sevilla on Tuesday with the USMNT star serving as one of several Americans on display as the Champions League kicks off.