Meet Christian Pulisic, Croatian-American Joining Chelsea for €64m

Daniela Rogulj

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Christian Pulisic became the most expensive American footballer in history after Premier League club Chelsea agreed to pay Borussia Dortmund €64 million for the 20-year-old Croatian-American and member of the USA national team. Pulisic will move to London at the end of the season, reports on January 4, 2019.

For Pulisic, this transfer in some way brings him back to his roots. As a boy, he spent a year in England while his mother Kelley worked as a teacher and father Mark trained in coaching. 

It was a time when football in America had not yet caught the momentum it has today; in England, a young Christian was infested by the football culture, and it was precisely this period of his life that directed his energy towards professional football.

Christian’s parents played football at George Mason University where they met. His father was also a professional indoor footballer, though he didn’t want his son to follow his footballing footsteps – he even pushed him in the other direction, his father revealed later. 

However, Christian’s football genes and experience from England, which was fixed in his memory since he was a child, drove Pulisic to a professional career. He soon popped on the radar of many scouts as one of the greatest talents ever to appear in the United States, though the quickest to jump on Pulisic was Borussia Dortmund, who brought him over as a 16-year-old.

Pulisic hails from Hershey, Pennsylvania, popularly referred to as the ‘town of chocolate’ and the ‘sweetest place in the world’ – you’ve most likely made the connection by now that the Hershey Company, one of the world’s largest chocolate manufacturers, comes from here. 

Christian’s grandfather, Mate, comes from the Adriatic island of Olib. Thanks to his grandfather, Christian received Croatian citizenship, which facilitated his early departure to Germany. Christian even received an offer to play for the Croatia national team, though he refused and chose to represent the United States instead. He may be regretting that decision after the 2018 World Cup.

Pulisic was not even fully grown when he debuted for the United States against Guatemala, becoming the youngest American player to take part in the World Cup qualifiers. He then became the youngest goalscorer of the modern era, the youngest goalscorer of two goals in a single game and the youngest captain in the history of the United States, wearing the band at only 20 years and 63 days.

We do not know exactly what Christian’s motives were in choosing the United States over Croatia, but this move has surely raised his market value. Today, at just 20 years old, Pulišić is the face of US football, a sport that is just now experiencing great expansion in the country. 

The biggest international clubs are not just playing random tournaments in the US; it is a growing and affluent market that opens up many possibilities. By buying the largest brand of US football, Chelsea has secured a good position in the race for continuously attracting US dollars.

“He is a great talent, and if you consider his marketing value as the best US player of the generation, this job is not at all expensive. He is a player who has drawn the attention of many English clubs; he brings incredible value to attracting fans from the US, which is a key market for many English clubs for obvious reasons,” German football expert Raphael Honigstein told Sky Sports.

Chelsea’s owner is still Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovich, although he moved his headquarters to Tel Aviv. After delays in renewing his UK visa, Abramovich, as a Russian Jew, was granted Israeli citizenship. It is speculated that he will sell the club he took over in 2003.

“It could make it easier for Chelsea if he doesn’t sell the club, but take advantage of America’s many opportunities. If Roman Abramovich is considering selling the club, this job looks like a clever business move,” said Honigstein.

Of course, apart from business, there is also an issue in the football itself. Chelsea coach Maurizio Sarri said that he had no idea the club brought over Pulisic, who is currently not in the starting eleven on Bundesliga’s leading squad.

English wunderkind Jadon Sancho and young Danish player Jacob Bruun Larsen pushed Pulisic to the bench; this season, he began five of the 11 league games he made an appearance.

However, Pulisic’s talent is unquestionable and does not necessarily mean that Chelsea will be only a magnet for US dollars. He is marked as the potentially the best footballer in US history and a rare US ‘soccer superstar’ – and he has plenty of time to fulfill his potential. We’ll see what Maurizio Sarri can pull out of the young footballer. 

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