Chelsea transfer news: Pulisic’s World Cup could decide how Boehly handles future transfer with swap-deals on the table.
The start of every season or new spell of matches feels the same for a lot of Chelsea players. Runs of fixtures get filed under ‘the most important of their career’ or as ‘defining periods’ for their future, and for many of them, this may well be true.
The start of the 2022/23 season was key for the development of Kai Havertz and Christian Pulisic more than most, with both players having a point to prove to themselves and Chelsea fans. The German has a sense of leeway due to his Champions League-winning goal and relative silence off the field. Pulisic is less fortunate.
The American has never quite become the player that he promised to spark into as a teenager at Borussia Dortmund, and his relationship with spectators at Stamford Bridge has become somewhat toxic. His goal against Wolves was a good way to start fresh under Graham Potter, but there’s a long way to go before many would consider him part of the medium or long-term future of the club.
Having experienced a gradual fracture with Thomas Tuchel over the last 12 months, Pulisic was one of several wantaway players over the summer. Unlike Timo Werner and Romelu Lukaku, the 24-year-old had to remain in London.
There was interest in him from Juventus, Manchester United and Newcastle, most notably, but nothing truly progressed for him. Even as a loan option, he isn’t the desirable asset he would have wanted to become, and now with the winter World Cup coming up, the biggest period of his career lies ahead.
If he can be the keystone to a successful USA run in Qatar, then it will not only bolster his standing in the wider footballing game, but it may also help Chelsea to market him to other clubs.
The World Cup is the biggest shop window there is in the sport, and Pulisic is already the star of his nation and will be centre stage of their stall. If he can burst into life, then it benefits everyone.
Transfer expert Gianluca Di Marzio thinks that some of his previous options may not be around next summer though, and that could be costly to Chelsea.
He admitted that the market in Italy might not be there for a winger like Pulisic, “I do not believe that. AC Milan have De Ketelaere, and I don’t think they will sign a similar player to the one they already have,” he said.
“That depends on the budget these clubs will have in January. Milan or Juventus have not yet decided what they will do in January. Juventus will probably try to get a left-back because they need one. It depends on Di Maria. If Di Maria has more injuries or if Chiesa doesn’t come back in the right shape, they can think about bringing in another player with Pulisic’s abilities. But at this point? No.
“I think the only situation that can happen that is interesting to follow is Rafael Leão’s contract because Milan need to extend Leão’s contract as soon as possible. Before the World Cup because otherwise it’s very dangerous and a risk for AC Milan because Leão was and is a goal for Chelsea.
Of course, they wanted the player in the last days of August, and they will come back if he doesn’t renew his contract at AC Milan.”
Chelsea have already been locked with AC Milan on and off the pitch. On it, they were twice victorious with recent home and away wins in the Champions League, but off it, they were inversely frustrated.
Hakim Ziyech was expected to join the Italian champions over the summer, but his deal never got agreed with complications over the structure. The Blues and Todd Boehly were then rebuffed in attempts to sign exciting winger Rafael Leao.
Also 23, Leao is one of the hottest prospects in football and has been picked out as a summer target for Chelsea, with contract negotiations in Italy faltering. He currently has nearly two years left on his deal, but if it was to get into the final 18 months, then Milan’s position would weaken, and Chelsea would be there to take advantage. It is not unreasonable to think that Boehly may lay the swap-deal card on the table should Pulisic be open to a move away after the World Cup.
If that is to fail as well, then a tough decision arises. Nobody benefits from Pulisic not playing, it only fosters more toxicity between fans and the player, plus it doesn’t aid Graham Potter to have an asset not playing and only depreciating. With other options available on the market, Chelsea could have to turn to Premier League sides, and that is a rare occurrence.
Manchester United may no longer be an option given that Antony joined late on in the window for £82m, whilst Newcastle have ambitious plans and may see themselves given more freedom in the market these days, which could lessen their interest in Pulisic. For everyone’s sake, a good World Cup and some clear and quick decision would be the best-case scenario.