CHELSEA new boy Christian Pulisic’s commercial appeal in the United States will be huge for the club because of his Lionel Messi-like status in his homeland - but there is no guarantee he will succeed on the pitch.
That’s according to Raphael Honigstein, who says Pulisic was swayed towards Chelsea because of his private chats with the Italian.
Chelsea announced back in January that they had agreed a £58million move with Borussia Dortmund for American international Pulisic to join the club this summer.
The 20-year-old winger had long been linked with a move to the Premier League having established himself as his country’s hottest young talent in the Bundesliga.
Pulisic’s spot in the Dortmund squad was taken by Englishman Jadon Sancho last season but Pulisic’s potential remains high, with the attacker able to play in numerous positions in the final third.
The forward commands huge attraction back in the US because of his talents and German football expert Honigstein expects that to have a major commercial impact for Chelsea across the Atlantic, because he captures the kind of attention Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi boasts in Europe.
But the journalist insists Chelsea fans should not expect Pulisic to replace former attacking talisman Eden Hazard, who joined Real Madrid earlier this month, despite ending the 2018-19 campaign in strong fashion for Dortmund, scoring three goals and adding two assists in his last seven games of the year.
And Honigstein is also cautious of the changes at Chelsea since Pulisic put pen-to-paper on a five-year contract six months ago, with Sarri having departed the club just a year into his contract to take over at Juventus with club legend Frank Lampard tipped to replace him at the London club’s helm.
It is claimed Sarri was a major part of Pulisic’s decision to join Chelsea, despite the fact the manager publicly claimed he “didn’t know anything” about the deal and said he was only asked his opinion a month before the transfer was completed.
I think Pulisic made a decision partly based because Sarri was convincing and said a lot of stuff that he felt was very, very interesting and could help him become the player that he can be
Honigstein told Sky Sports’ Transfer Talk podcast: “He won’t be able to fill Hazard’s boots just yet but I think there’s a real player there who can develop and who with the right coaching and confidence can go to a really high level.
“Also he will add a lot to Chelsea’s international brand recognition. He is the Messi of the United States, we should not underestimate just how much of an impact and of a following this guy has.
“Immediately Chelsea will become the most-watched team in America simply because he’s there. OK maybe Manchester United and Liverpool with their historic fanbases will disagree but the neutrals will all start watching Chelsea.
“It’s interesting because despite what Sarri said in public, it’s my understanding that there were discussions with him and Pulisic before [the deal was done].
“I think Pulisic made a decision partly based because Sarri was convincing and said a lot of stuff that he felt was very, very interesting and could help him become the player that he can be.
“I’m not saying Lampard can’t do the same but it is a very different Chelsea that he’s joining. It’s not going to be easy but I believe in him.
“I think he’s quite tough and there were also signs recently towards the end of the Bundesliga season that saw him rediscover his touch.
“He lost himself a little bit. Maybe now his future’s clear he plays with a bit more freedom.
“We can see that the money and the plaudits are warranted, there is a real player in there.”