He’s hailed as the footballing superstar America has waited a lifetime for. And with good reason. Christian Pulisic isn’t just an exciting talent by American standards, but by global standards too. Still a teenager, the Hershey-native has become one of Borussia Dortmund’s most important players. Well, that was until a few weeks ago.
At present, Pulisic finds himself something of a peripheral figure at the Westfalenstadion. Against Augsburg at the weekend, the 19-year-old was afforded just 13 minutes off game time off the bench. Before that, he was hooked after an hour against Atalanta in the Europa League, and was on the bench against Borussia Monchengladbach the game before that.
“[My form is] not the best it’s been but I’m working hard, trying to help the team everywhere I can,” Pulisic said after his last appearance against Augsburg. “But I just have to stay positive, keep going and things will turn around.” There is a lot of pressure heaped on the shoulders of the young American, but he must remain pragmatic and keep in mind that he is still only young.
And that’s just the thing. Pulisic is still a teenager. He’s not even old enough to buy alcohol in his homeland. These are the sort of dips in form that players of his age suffer. In fact, these sorts of dips in form are what is required for young players to reach full maturity. Pulisic needs to go through difficult spells to find out more about himself as a player.
So there should be no panic over Pulisic’s poor form. This isn’t to say the 19-year-old should be content with being on the Borussia Dortmund bench, but it’s not a cause for him to lose his composure and his focus. His talent should see him come out the other side shining before too long.
What’s more, this dip in form might actually help Pulisic’s development in the short term. Speculation had been building over many Premier League clubs’ interest in the teenager, with Liverpool and Manchester United in particular monitoring the American’s progression. This illustrates the esteem in which he is already held.
But such a move to would heap even more expectation and pressure on Pulisic. At this stage of his career, it might prove to be too much. So many young players have been chewed up and spat out by the Premier League machine. There’s an argument to be made that another season at Dortmund would serve him well. That the Bundesliga is more than sufficient in terms of quality to act as a proving ground for the time being.
If Premier League clubs are put off by Pulisic’s recent form then their interest was fickle in the first place. If Liverpool and Manchester United are only interested in a ready-made, fully-formed world beater than Pulisic probably isn’t their man. They should spend £100 million on someone like Gareth Bale instead. Pulisic is a talent for the future that allows him some leeway in the now.
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