AC Milan and United States men’s national team fans are worried about a potential Christian Pulisic injury after he was substituted out at halftime vs. Napoli on Saturday.
The American winger had one of his best displays for Milan in the opening 45 minutes. Pulisic was connecting his passes, dribbling past opponents and helped open the scoring with a beautiful assist to Olivier Giroud.
Christian Pulisic ➡️ Olivier Giroud ⚽The former Chelsea teammates are still making it happen for Milan. ⚫ pic.twitter.com/wtrFwW9AA1
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) October 29, 2023
Of Milan’s two wingers, Pulisic and Rafael Leão, the American had the better first half. The Rossoneri went into the half with a 2-0 lead.
With such a strong performance, fans were left scratching their heads when manager Stefano Pioli made the decision to take Pulisic out of the game at halftime.
— AC Milan (@acmilan) October 29, 2023
There are only two options for why Pioli would do this: an injury or managing minutes to keep Pulisic from getting injured.
It has been reported that Pulisic was taken out as a precaution after feeling muscle tightness.
— BellaCiaoFootball (@MrCalcioGuy) October 29, 2023
Pulisic injury concern
Milan’s attack and momentum stalled in the second half. With Pulisic’s usual replacement Samuel Chukwueze injury, Luka Romero came into the game. He was far less effective than Pulisic going forward.
Fans hypothesized that Pioli thought the game was in the bag and wanted to manage Pulisic’s minutes.
Pulisic subbed out but I get it, if he gets injured it’s a massive problem. I think managing his minutes is prudent.— USMNTrev (@Eyesandvibes) October 29, 2023
Pulisic being subbed out at halftime is likely just so he can rest or he picked up a minor injury which seems unlikely.He was great in the 1st half, it’s probably just rotation.
— Tactical Manager (@ManagerTactical) October 29, 2023
But why would he need his minutes managed? Last week in Serie A Pulisic was the “sacrificial sub” when defender Malick Thiaw got a red card. This meant Pulisic only played 43 minutes.
The American did play a full 90 minutes against PSG on Wednesday in the Champions League but compared to Milan’s other forwards he was the most rested.
You’re telling me that in a game as big as Napoli, Pioli wanted to save Pulisic for the game vs. Udinese next Saturday? Not likely.
Pulisic didn’t show any signs of discomfort in the first half, but what other logical reason would there be to take him out of the game than an injury?
Hopefully the muscle tightness isn't anything too serious for Pulisic who has a long injury history.