Arsenal Enters The Race To Sign Christian Pulisic
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Christian Pulisic had a difficult year. From missing out on the World Cup to dealing with injury to not being a consistent starter for Borussia Dortmund, you can’t blame the 20-year old for wanting a little change of scenery. Pulisic has been on the radar of big European clubs for quite some time now, and a summer move seems inevitable.
Manchester United was linked with the American in the past, as the club needed a natural winger to be brought in over the summer. Post-Mourinho’s dismissal, it doesn’t sound like United will reignite its interest. Liverpool was also interested and apparently led the race to sign Pulisic for a number of weeks, only to recently pull out because of the squad's high performance levels and a price tag deemed too high for an unlikely starter.
Chelsea, the most likely suitors, recently put in a $57 million bid for Pulisic. It seems a bit odd, especially if Chelsea want to use Pulisic as a winger. The Blues have Willian, Pedro, Eden Hazard, and Callum Hudson-Odoi on their books. Hazard seems to be on the move in the summer, meaning a spot would be open. Hudson-Odoi has been subject to a few bids from other European clubs, and he could possibly leave if Maurizio Sarri doesn’t give him game time.
There’s also an argument that Pulisic will be bought and immediately go on loan. Chelsea does have a habit of singing young players and sending them off, which is of great concern to USMNT supporters. It’s more likely that Chelsea will push players out the door to make room for him, since Hazard is probably leaving.
A late-comer in the bidding war is, oddly enough, Arsenal. Arsenal has made a good effort to improve its squad in recent years, signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette. In a lot of ways, the Gunners attacking output has certainly improved, but the squad has still struggled.
This season, Arsenal has scored the third-most goals in the Premier League with 42. On the defensive side, the Gunners have given up 30 goals. Due to Arsenal’s defensive frailties, they sit fifth in the table.
An important talking point with the Arsenal squad isn’t its back line (which is poor, by the way), it’s Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey. The latter hasn’t signed a new contract yet and is likely to leave the club in the summer when his contract expires, but Ramsey spends most of his time playing through the middle.
Ozil, on the other hand, signed a new longterm contract with the Gunners in February. Ozil has, to be fair, underwhelmed during his time in North London and fans have called for him to leave the club on numerous occasions. Ozil also plays through the middle. See a pattern there?
Pulisic is in no way a natural winger. He has the pace, creativity and athleticism to play the role, but it’s not where he’s at his best. Pulisic is brilliant as an attacking midfielder, playing just underneath the striker. Pulisic would be great competition for Ozil and even Mkhitaryan. Pulisic could easily push them out of the starting lineup if he hits form again. On top of that, Arsenal’s free flowing, attacking football would suit him.
On the business side of things, Stan Kroenke owns the club. As a fellow American, Kroenke will want to market Pulisic stateside.
At first, it seems odd that Arsenal entered the race for Pulisic since the club’s inconsistency is something the American will not be looking for, but it does make sense that Arsenal will want some competition in its midfield.
Is Arsenal the best fit for Pulisic? Probably not. Liverpool or (the current) Manchester United would probably be a better fit. But Liverpool has incredible depth in its squad and it could be difficult for Pulisic to find his place. Manchester United could be a tough sell too, as the uncertainty surrounding Alexis Sanchez, as well as fighting for a place behind Lingard, Rashford, Martial and Pogba could prove difficult.
Chelsea so far lead the race, and it’s likely that he’ll end up in London this summer, but probably not North London. If he does go to Chelsea, which is all but confirmed, Pulisic won’t slot in with the midfield three, he’ll be a part of the front three on the left or the right. It could be a fruitful move for him, but only time will tell.