Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has defended his decision to play Christian Pulisic as a right wing-back, with an American forward being tipped to “play a lot of minutes” while posting the “numbers” he deserves.
A USMNT star more at home in a wide attacking berth has seen his versatility put to good use over recent weeks, with the talented 23-year-old providing cover for absent team-mates on a regular basis.
He was deployed as a central striker when Romelu Lukaku was out of contention, while an unfortunate injury to Reece James has seen him slotted into a defensive berth.
What has been said?
Tuchel can appreciate why questions are being asked of his decision to move Pulisic around, but the German believes there are plenty of positives to be taken by a player that only has three goals and two assists to his name this season.
The Chelsea manager has told reporters when asked if a United States international is filling too many positions: “Yeah, it's true we moved him around a little bit, but in the end they want to play, and it's a good thing if they can play more positions.
“You can always argue I would have been more consistent or better if I had one clear position, but maybe then you have less minutes or you face even more competition, because up front we have two or three players in every position.
“So first of all it's a good thing, it was also a bad sign because it means we had trouble on the left and right wing-back with injuries and he helped us out there.
“We are happy with the impact that he has.
“He can play a lot of minutes, he needs to play a lot of minutes, he has a physical ability that can help us.
“Of course everybody wants him to have numbers, everybody wants him to be effective, and we can improve everybody, we can improve on that. And from there we go, this is the situation.”
Will Chelsea be signing more players in January?
Pulisic forms part of a star-studded attacking unit at Stamford Bridge, with the likes of Lukaku, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Kai Havertz also competing for game time.
The Blues are well-stocked in just about every area of the field – apart from at full-back where untimely knocks are starting to take their toll – and there could be more additions to come in January.
Quizzed on his recruitment plans with a winter window open, Tuchel said: “We react daily to the situation, but the situation has not changed for us. No news, no updates.
“The areas are clear. We are looking into the market and we have our ideas, but there is no need to put pressure and for sure no need to put any pressure out in public.
“We are relaxed. I am relaxed. I am happy with the players. I wish to have all the players here, so we take care of them very well. The guys who are out injured hopefully come back as soon as possible and hopefully no new positive testings.
“When we have our squad I am a happy coach. We have some long-term injuries that we are concerned about, but play for Chelsea and to find these players in January is not easy.”
The Blues will be back in action on Wednesday when facing London rivals Tottenham in the second leg of a Carabao Cup semi-final tie that they currently lead 2-0 on aggregate.