Christian Pulisic transfer to Chelsea makes no sense if Bayern Munich want Callum Hudson-Odoi

  • American’s arrival at Stamford Bridge comes at expense of English talent
  • Callum Hudson-Odoi needs to leave Chelsea for his own good
PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 January, 2019, 7:01pm
UPDATED : Friday, 04 January, 2019, 7:01pm

Maurizio Sarri’s startling admission pretty much sums up Christian Pulisic’s transfer to Chelsea, which was announced out of the blue this week.

“I don’t know,” the Chelsea boss said when asked about the £58 million (US$73.3 million) deal. “I didn’t know anything about Pulisic on Tuesday. “The club asked my opinion about him about one month ago. My opinion was positive. Today I have known that the deal is done but I didn’t know anything.”

Chelsea announced the transfer on US television, confirming Pulisic will remain with Borussia Dortmund on loan until the end of the season.

He is now the 41st player Chelsea have sent out on loan this season, which makes the whole move a little bit ridiculous.

Why are the six-time champions of England shelling out huge money for a highly rated 20-year-old American winger from the Bundesliga, when they have already got a highly rated 18-year-old English winger whom Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich want to buy?

Bayern have reportedly come back with an improved £30 million bid for Hudson-Odoi, after their initial offer of £20 million was rejected, but Chelsea are said to be demanding £40 million.

The whole saga can surely only boil down to one thing – dollar signs in the eyes of the club’s marketing executives.

Pulisic is potentially the best talent the US has ever produced, and he will be the star of their national team – on and off the pitch – for a decade or more to come.

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The game is quickly gaining traction in the US, with Major League Soccer growing in stature and attracting foreign players who aren’t just over-the-hill legends looking for one last payday.

Chelsea tried the ploy before when they signed Matt Miazga from the New York Red Bulls in 2016. The 23-year-old American centre back is one of those 41 loanees, playing at French Ligue 1 club Nantes, with little hope of ever being a first-team regular at Chelsea.

Pulisic is certainly of a much higher calibre, though, having been promoted to Dortmund’s senior squad by Jurgen Klopp soon after arriving at their academy during the 2014-15 season.

So it is ironic that Pulisic, in his open letter thanking Dortmund fans on Tuesday, said “I would not be where I am today without the club and their belief in young players” because he is moving to another club that has no time for youth.

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Not since John Terry has a player made the successful transition from the Chelsea youth ranks to first-team regular, and this for a club that has won seven of the last nine FA Youth Cups. Surely the kids can’t be too bad?

Ruben Loftus-Cheek has come closest. The midfielder’s form for Crystal Palace on loan earned him an England call-up for the World Cup, where he impressed.

But he is back on the bench at Chelsea, behind Croatian Mateo Kovacic, in the pecking order.

The 22-year-old has scored three goals in nine appearances in the Premier League and a hat-trick in the Europa League, but the cold reality is he will have to leave Stamford Bridge to get the regular first-team football.

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German clubs have been all too happy to benefit from the strange unwillingness of the top Premier League clubs to play English talent.

Jadon Sancho, who couldn’t get a game for Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, has starred for Dortmund this season after joining in the summer of 2017 – the 18-year-old has seven goals and eight assists this season.

Arsenal’s Reiss Nelson is also shining in Germany, with six goals in 13 league games for Hoffenheim. No wonder Bayern are keen on Hudson-Odoi.

“They are developing great young players in England,” Borussia Monchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl told The Times in October 2017. “But normally the player has no chance to be in the first 11 or even the first 18 of a Premier League team.

“[English clubs] have a top player in their academy, but they will buy another who is two years older and has played two years in the first team in France or somewhere else. Sometimes it looks like the transfer market is a competition in itself.”

Eberl’s comments came in a year that year saw incredible success for England’s youth teams – they were runners-up at the Uefa Under-17 Championship, Toulon tournament winners, Fifa Under-20 World Cup winners, Uefa Under-21 Championship semi-finalists, Uefa Under-19 Championship winners and Fifa Under-17 World Cup winners.

“We follow every English national game – Under-16, Under-17 and so on – and we know every top player in England,” Eberl added. “They develop great players. That age group [born in] 2000 in England, you could take every player. It’s unbelievable. That age group of 1999-2000-2001, there are a lot of top English players. For me, they’re the best in the world in that age group.”

Sancho and Hudson-Odoi shone in that Under-17 World Cup side, along with Phil Foden – who many might be hoping follows his old teammate’s example and leaves Guardiola’s City.

And while Sancho looks like securing a place in England’s squad for the 2020 European Championship, Foden and Hudson-Odoi are out in the cold.

Pulisic’s talent is not in doubt, but it’s just a shame his arrival in England looks to be at the expense of a similarly-talented English player.