Christian Pulisic has a point to prove in Milan on the final leg of his European tour

From the exuberant flashes of promise in the Ruhr to the clamor and stagnation of West London – Christian Pulisic’s reluctant European tour aims for a resurgence in Lombardy, northern Italy.

Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea, now AC Milan. The 24-year-old’s resume remains superficially impressive, although there are growing question marks over whether he can recapture the magic that convinced the Premier League club to pay £58m ($74.8m) for his comeback in 2019. .

He really struggled for form and minutes in his final season at Dortmund, having previously shone, and in general, that pattern has continued in the Premier League.

With the USMNT player arriving in Italy for a medical on Wednesday, the striker’s immediate target couldn’t be clearer: he have For the success of this move to Milan.

Pulisic has been tasked with creating a consistent body of work to dismiss doubts that arose in England, when erratic performances and sluggish injuries last season resulted in his fewest league minutes since his Bundesliga debut.

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With next year’s Copa America and the 2026 World Cup on home soil looming, it will be a lift for club and country if the striker can take things to the next level domestically, establish a rhythm and enter those tournaments mature. , reliable performance.

For Milan, who won Serie A for the 19th time in 2022 but finished only fourth round last time, their possession is part of a bid to get back on track as well. Their goal, then, is a common goal. But what other factors fueled their desire to bring Pulisic to the San Siro?

For starters, he’s hooking up with a manager, Stefano Pioli, who really wants him; Something he has arguably been lacking since being persuaded by Pioli’s countryman, Maurizio Sarri, to join Chelsea over four years ago.

Pioli mentors Pulisic’s former Chelsea teammate, Fikayo Tomori (Picture: Alexander Hasenstein/Getty Images)

The feeling at Milan – seven-time Champions League winners and last season’s semi-finalist – is that they are, at their best, signing a very good player; A well-rounded winger, more technical than athletic, but also a setter and scorer who can dribble the ball into tight spaces.

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Pioli knows his side need to be less dependent on Portugal international Rafael Leao to break down opponents who defend deeply against them. The Rossoneri averaged 60 per cent of ball possession against teams in the bottom half of Serie A last season, and hopefully Pulisic can help make that domination of the ball more effective.

Their expected goals (xG) created against lower half teams (1.34) lag behind eight of their local rivals: Inter (1.66 x G), Atalanta (1.62), Napoli (1.56), Roma (1.46), Juventus (1.45), Turin. (1.42), Lazio (1.38) and Fiorentina (1.36).

Milan also think they are signing a versatile player. A player who played long minutes on the right wing, especially in Borussia Dortmund, and is comfortable on the left side as well. However, the Italian club’s manager sees Pulisic as the natural number 10, which the player himself found encouraging.

So, while Milan see him as an upgrade to Junior Messias and Alexis Saylemakers on the right, they know he can shine through the final third.

Then there’s the EU passport – Pulisic moved to Germany before the age of 16 and qualified through his Croatian grandfather, Mate – which made his move to Italy even smoother, and the fact that he made it clear he strongly preferred Milan to the only other concrete offer on the table from French club Lyon.

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Milan know his injury record is not perfect and being a high earner means there is an element of risk in this move, even though they will pay him much less than his salary at Stamford Bridge.

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They will also pay less tax on their new striker’s wages, thanks to a government relief scheme that allows Italian clubs to pay lower fees for players arriving from abroad. That could potentially boost Serie A by attracting bigger box office stars. The first season of Pulisic’s career in Italy will now be streamed back home in the US on streaming service Paramount+, as CBS Sports has acquired the rights to broadcast the league from ESPN in 2021 at mentioned Three-year deal worth $75 million per season.

Securing their man was relatively simple.

They initially tried their luck with less trying to test Chelsea’s resolve in their valuation of Pulisic. Although the English club and AC Milan had established a good relationship in the past few years – Olivier Giroud, Fikayo Tomori, Tiemoue Bakayoko (on loan) and, more recently, Ruben Loftus-Cheek joined the Italian club – they felt that the leverage was tipping more in their favor in the negotiations. About Pulisic.

They initially bid €14m (£12m; $15.3m) for the USMNT bidder, raising it slightly when that was rejected, and then only pushed up what would be their accepted offer, for €20m plus an additional €2m- The additions came with a sell-out clause in the event of a future transfer, after Lyon shook up the dynamic with an offer of €25m (£21.5m, $27.3m) on top of their own sell-out clause.

Pulisic had no interest in a move to the top flight, so Chelsea couldn’t force the auction Lyon hit so hard; Especially when they had already effectively devalued the player by presenting him as a heavyweight in their failed attempt to acquire Leao last summer. Their reluctance to offer Pulisic much game time since then, with their squad complemented by the likes of Raheem Sterling and Christopher Nkunku, who operate in the American’s position, has meant his value has been further undermined.

Pulisic played his part in Chelsea’s success in Euro 2021 (Picture: David Ramos/Getty Images)

In this context, the London club may feel well done to strike a deal in a deal worth up to €22m ($24.2m, £18.8m) overall.

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The numbers won’t matter much to Pulisic as he plans to live in another new country. This is another opportunity to thrive. His focus will be on proving he can be a major player in the Europa League, particularly in light of former USAF champion, Landon Donovan, claiming he should have returned home to Major League Soccer instead of Italy.

Major League Soccer’s rise continues in his absence, but Pulisic seems determined to show his brave teenage decision to move to Germany will culminate in everything he dreamed of at the time – playing an important role in a successful and strong team; He plays an important role in the team that wins titles.

Make it happen and he’ll feel completely comfortable in his own skin when he’s cast as the USMNT’s leading superstar.

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(Top images: TF-Images/Getty Images; John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

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