4 December 2018

How Does Pulisic Compare?  (Sky Sports)

Christian PulisicChristian Pulisic has been linked with a big-money move to Chelsea but how does he compare to their current crop of wingers? take a look at the stats.

Jadon Sancho's emergence is major positive for Borussia Dortmund but it is perhaps not ideal for Pulisic. "Captain America" was supposed to be the next major star on Dortmund's flanks, and, at 20 years of age, there is still ample time for him to realise that potential, but recent transfer speculation suggests he will do it away from Dortmund.

Head coach Lucien Favre seems to have relegated Pulisic to an impact role from the bench, and, having made just four league starts this season, the American is said to be considering his future in Germany.

A January switch may be ambitious, but as rumours of a £70m exit continue to swirl, Dortmund may yet be tempted to cash in on the young winger in the new year.

Liverpool have been linked with Pulisic, their interest understandable given Jurgen Klopp's experience of having worked with him at Dortmund, but Chelsea appear to be the front-runners in the race for his signature. Maurizio Sarri's tenure has started impressively but there is a gap in his squad for a youthful winger to complement Eden Hazard.

Pedro and Willian have impressed in their own rights this season, but at 31 and 30, they will need replacing sooner rather than later. Pulisic has age on his side and he also offers the kind of pace Sarri favours from his wingers. At Napoli, that pace was provided by Jose Callejon, and at Chelsea it has been Pedro.

Pedro has fared well, averaging a respectable 2.6 successful dribbles per 90 this season - second only to Hazard, but Pulisic is up at three per 90 minutes at Dortmund, reinforcing a statistically calculated strength of 'dribbling' and also placing him above Willian, who has averaged 2.5 per 90 minutes.

The ability to drive opponents back is a key reason for Chelsea's interest in Pulisic, even if his end product can be found wanting compared to Hazard's (3.4 key passes per 90) and Willian's (3.9). Pulisic's average of 2.1 key passes per 90 minutes is, however, superior to Pedro's 1.1.

Pulisic's goal return is probably the primary area for improvement. Pulisic has only netted once in the Bundesliga this season despite the ease with which Dortmund are hitting the back of the net. A single goal in 391 minutes is nothing to write home about and it is not the first time he has struggled in front of goal. Since the start of the 2016/17 season, he has only scored eight Bundesliga goals.

Wing OptionsPedro, by contrast, has five Premier League goals at a rate of one every 126 minutes this season alone. Hazard (seven) and Willian (two) have also outscored Pulisic.

Another issue is that Sarri requires a hard-working right winger to allow the man on the opposite flank to excel. The man given that platform to excel at Napoli was Lorenzo Insigne and at Chelsea's it is Hazard.

The Belgian is one of the Premier League's best players, so it is hardly surprising that Sarri gives him the freedom to wreak havoc from the left flank, where Chelsea direct 39 per cent of their attacks compared to 34 per cent down the right. Pedro and Willian are averaging 1.4 tackles per 90 minutes as they work hard to offset the freedom given to Hazard, whereas Pulisic is making just 0.5 tackles per 90 minutes at Dortmund.

That low total may have something to do with the way Dortmund are playing under Favre. In 2017/18, Pulisic averaged 1.8 tackles per 90 minutes, while in 2016/17 he averaged 1.5. Furthermore, he has won possession in the final third 26 times since the start of the 2017/18 Bundesliga season, the fourth-highest return of any player. Those stats suggest Pulisic would be more than capable of putting in a shift for the team at Chelsea.

Pulisic could well be viewed as a long-term replacement for Hazard on the left, but having spent the majority of his career on the right, and with Callum Hudson-Odoi also waiting in the wings, he would be more useful to Chelsea on the opposite flank for now.

The mooted £70m asking price is steep, but if Sarri can tap into his potential, then it could prove a bargain for the Blues in the long run. The stats suggest Chelsea and Pulisic would be an exciting match.

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