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'I could see it at close quarters' - Carragher compares Pulisic to Owen as Chelsea star battles pressure of carrying USMNT torch

7:46 PM GMT 11/02/2022
Christian Pulisic USMNT 2021-22
The former Reds defender compared the two and how they feel the weight of representing their country on the big stage

Former Liverpool star Jamie Carragher compared the pressure faced by Chelsea and U.S. men's national team star Christian Pulisic with what he saw up close with Michael Owen, who was also tasked with leading both a club and a country at such a young age.

Pulisic is the USMNT's big star and arguably the biggest star in American soccer history, having won the Champions League after making the move to Chelsea from Borussia Dortmund.

But playing at such a level at such a young age comes with a lot of pressure, and Carragher says he's seen that pressure before in one of his former teammates.

Comparing Pulisic to Owen

While Pulisic's rise has seen him become the torchbearer for an emerging soccer country, Owen's meteoric start to life at Liverpool saw him anointed as England's savior.

Having burst onto the scene at Anfield, Owen was thrust into the spotlight at a young age as he was tasked with leading England to glory that, inevitably, never came during his time with the national team.

Injuries ended up derailing the later portions of Owen's career, but Carragher remembers back to those early days when it felt like Owen had a country on his shoulders, and he believes that the feeling is similar to what Pulisic may experience at some points as he looks to earn his place at Chelsea.

"We've had situations like that before like with Michael Owen," Carragher told GOAL. "When he first came into the Liverpool team, he was a superstar going to the World Cup at 18, and before you knew it, he felt like he was more England's player than Liverpool's.

"I think that was a problem for him in his relationship with Liverpool supporters. He was seen as that golden boy of England that was going to take them to the first trophy in God knows how long. I actually roomed with Michael, so I could see [the pressure] at close quarters.

"With Pulisic, he goes back over to America and hasn't done quite as well as he would have liked in his last few performances certainly. He's not quite fully established himself at Chelsea just yet. I think he's been playing where I've seen sort of snippets and signs in the Premier League but he hasn't fully grasped it just yet and you're always wanting more.

"I'm not sure if that's the opinion of American fans, but there's no doubt that he is an immensely talented footballer, and a person that can score goals and do some great things but he's just to get across that line and really establish himself in the Premier League and show that he is the main man."

Pulisic, meanwhile, has spoken about how he copes with the pressure of playing for the U.S. and for Chelsea, saying that he finds it important to separate his happiness as a player from his happiness as a person.

Champions League favorites?

Pulisic and Chelsea won the Champions League last season, taking down Manchester City in the finale with the American coming off the bench to seal the win.

The Blues are still in the Champions League this season, where they will face Lille on February 22 in the first leg of their round of 16 clash.

Chelsea are one of several big clubs that have realistic ambitions of winning the Champions League, with the likes of City, Liverpool, PSG, Bayern and Real Madrid among the favorites.

But Carragher says that he believes that Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and PSG aren't quite at the same level as the other favorites as the round of 16 begins.

"I don't think PSG can win it, even though they have probably the most expensive squad and maybe the biggest names of the competition," said Carragher, who will be part of CBS Sports and Paramount+'s studio team for Champions League coverage in the U.S. "I just don't believe PSG can win the Champions League.

"I think Manchester City can win it because I think they're a much better team than PSG. All the big teams, I look at Liverpool, City, Chelsea, Bayern Munich as the four teams and don't really see any outside of that.

"The only other ones that stand out are PSG and Manchester United, who have spent as much money as anyone in Europe but I don't think they have great teams like the other ones. They have great individuals.

"But that makes me happy in some way because it's not just about individuals and buying expensive players. It's about creating something at a club and managing an atmosphere in a dressing room and that's what I like about the past winners that we've had."

To back his point, Carragher pointed to his famous 2005 Liverpool team that took down AC Milan at Istanbul.

Carragher acknowledges that Liverpool did not have the talent of Milan, which featured Kaka, Hernan Crespo, Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta and Andrea Pirlo, to name just a few.

"A lot of times, the best team in Europe doesn't win it," he said, "and I'd say Manchester City have been the best team in Europe judging on how they've done in the Premier League. I don't think anyone has performed better than them.. but the best team in Europe doesn't always win the trophy.

"We were nowhere near the best team in Europe in 2005. We won the competition because we had players better suited to European football than Premier League football. The Premier League was too physical for a lot of the players in that team, but the continental side with the referees not letting certain things go certainly helped us in 2005 and you need a little bit of luck."

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