Former Chelsea winger Pat Nevin believes Christian Pulisic has the potential to be “world class and one of the best players on the globe,” but the US international has been told that he must overcome niggling injury troubles in order to reach such heights.
The 23-year-old forward has been out of action recently due to an ankle injury, which has forced him to miss seven games for his club and the latest round of World Cup qualifying for his country.
He is, however, making his way back into contention, and with big things anticipated of Pulisic at Stamford Bridge, Nevin is hoping to see the American live up to the hype during a long stint with Thomas Tuchel’s side.
What’s been said so far?
“There have been moments of time at Chelsea where you believe he can be world class and one of the finest players on the planet, but it has been extremely stop-start,” Nevin stated in an interview with NetBet when asked if Pulisic’s injury record is becoming a cause for concern.
“If it was the same type of injury every time, you’d be saying there’s a vulnerability there and that he’s injury prone, which is something players despise being labeled as.”
“I think he’s been extremely unlucky since he keeps getting weird injuries at inopportune periods.” Long-term injuries are unavoidable, but the minor niggles are aggravating.
“When he’s recovered from them, he hasn’t been able to reintegrate into the team because the other players are performing so well.”
“It’s been frustrating for him, but any of his followers in the United States will tell you he’s capable of anything.” But it hasn’t occurred in a long enough time, and as a Chelsea supporter, you have to recognize that.
“I’ve worked with a lot of players like him, and he needs that six-to-eight-game stretch to get over these niggles and start to blossom.”
“When he’s fit, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Pulisic and [Romelu] Lukaku up front because he can do it.”
Is there anyone else who has something to prove?
When Pulisic returns to Chelsea, he’ll be looking to make an immediate impact, and the same can be said for summer addition Saul Niguez.
The Spain midfielder has had a difficult start to his stay in England, having been sent off at half-time in his lone Premier League match thus far, and Nevin admits the 26-year-arrival old’s in west London has surprised him.
“I was pretty surprised when he was brought in, I have to be honest,” he said of Saul, who joined Chelsea on an initial loan deal from Atletico Madrid.
“They’ve allowed [Billy] Gilmour to go out on loan, and there’s [Mateo] Kovacic, Jorginho, [N’Golo] Kante, [Ruben] Loftus-Cheek, [Mason] Mount, and [Trevor] Chalobah who can play in there.”
“You would wonder why we need another midfielder, but Tuchel made it clear that he wanted three in the middle, so it makes sense.”
“The starting three will always be Kovacic, Jorginho and Kante if all are fit and available. If you’re rotating all three then bringing in Saul makes sense, his first game wasn’t a cracker being taken off at half-time.
“The problem is getting him in and getting him game time because there isn’t an easy game anywhere.
“You look at the Southampton game which is supposed to be an ‘easier’ game, but at 1-1 Chelsea were second best. That’s what it’s like in the Premier League, so you have to be up to speed quickly and there’s no easy game for him to break in.
“There isn’t a run of three or four games to bed him in because those fixtures don’t exist. It’ll be hard for him to hit that top form
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