Argentinean Mauricio Pochettino was formally named as the next head coach at Christian Pulisic’s Chelsea, however whether the American star will ever play under the coach that once lamented his transfer to London is a serious doubt, with an uncertain summer season ahead.
Christian Pulisic’s future with the London club has increasingly been looking to be nearing its expiration date, after his playing time and general stock has sharply decreased during what is one of their most disappointing seasons in recent memory.
Following Graham Potter’s firing in early-April, after less than seven months on the job, rumors had been swirling about the inevitable appointment of Pochettino, who was in the middle of a one-year break from the game, after being dismissed by French powerhouse PSG following an underwhelming stay at the ambitious club.
His time at PSG was marked by general disappointment and stagnation of their once meteoric rise; in his first half-season, he led the team to a shocking second-place finish behind Lille, although he did manage to win the domestic cup as a consolation, and eventually lead the team to the Ligue 1 title in the following season, before his eventual firing.
Most critically, the team never managed to live up to lofty expectations in the Champions League, being knocked out in the semifinal in his first season, then losing out to Real Madrid in the Round of 16 in the following year.
While it has been treated as a given that Pulisic, who played in just 24 Premier League games and registered only a single goal in the recently-completed season, will be leaving during the upcoming summer, the entrance of a new coach with a new tactical philosophy can upend prior plans.
When Pochettino formally takes over the position on July 1, he will be the sixth head coach, including interim appointments, that Pulisic has served under during his four years in London.
Whether Pulisic actually plays under his sixth coach when the season begins more than one month later is an entirely different matter all together.
While the American initially found some deegree of success under his first Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard and his successor Thomas Tuchel in the months following his transfer of more than €60M, his playing time fell off significantly as time wore on.
This culminated in a recent second go-around under Lampard, named as the temporary caretaker for the remainder of the current season following Potter’s dismissal, where he played a grand total of 118 minutes across five games where he stepped foot onto the field.
With Pulisic’s contract ending in summer 2024, Chelsea will be eager to recoup some costs as they try to build their way back towards being a contender both domestically and in Europe. However, it is unlikely that they will be able to demand any fee even close to what they paid over four years ago, so any serious intervention by the new coach in the player’s favor could outweigh their plans to take pennies on the dollar.
While rumors since Pochettino’s name was first connected with the Chelsea job have ranged from Pulisic being a core part of the Argentinean’s plans, to him being set for a quick departure, neither the player nor anybody associated with the club – including its new coach – have given any indication about future plans.
The new coach will, in theory, be able to keep a somewhat smaller, more focused squad than the typical fare for Chelsea, as they will not compete in any European competitions in the upcoming season.
Pochettino’s only comments on the American which have surfaced came from his time at the helm of Tottenham Hotspur, where he lamented about Chelsea’s financial advantage by referencing the expensive transfer in the winter 2019 window, which was immediately followed by a his half-season loan back to selling club Borussia Dortmund to finish out the season.
That he will now either have that very player at his disposal, or oversee his departure from the club at a significant financial loss is not without irony.
Whether he opts to utilize the American in his preferred high-pressure tactical approach will be clarified during the next four months before the transfer window closes.