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Christian Pulisic

Pulisic tipped to fend off Chelsea transfer talk but Friedel admits injuries are a ‘concern’ for USMNT star

20:00 EAT 19/11/2021
Christian Pulisic Chelsea Champions League 21/22
The former United States international goalkeeper believes his fellow countryman will prove his worth at Stamford Bridge if he can stay fit

Christian Pulisic is capable of fending off any transfer talk at Chelsea, says Brad Friedel, but the United States international has been warned that a series of niggling injuries will be a source of “concern” for those at Stamford Bridge.

The 23-year-old forward is working through his latest comeback from an enforced spell on the sidelines, with two outings taken in for his country since domestic football shut down in early November.

He has been among the goals and will be hoping to step straight into Thomas Tuchel’s Premier League plans for a trip to Leicester on Saturday after sitting out 12 games in all competitions at club level.

What has been said?

Former USMNT goalkeeper Friedel, who spoke to Goal in association with sports betting site Betway US, said when quizzed on Pulisic’s fitness struggles: “When your best players are consistently injured, it’s a concern.

“You want your best players to also be playing consistently with their club teams and you want them free of injury, and he has not been free of injury. That has also stunted his ability to be a regular for Chelsea.

“I don’t think it’s a concern as far as when he is fit and will he be on the team sheet. For the U.S. he will, but it is a concern because you want your best players to be fully fit.

“The national side is not a day-to-day club team so the people that monitor his fitness are going to be his club team, and that’s Chelsea right now.

“I’m sure, if you ask Chelsea are his injuries an issue and are they worrying about it, I think – maybe not on the record but definitely off it – they would say ‘yes, it’s a concern’.”

Will Pulisic remain at Chelsea?

Pulisic’s inability to steer clear of the treatment table has led to suggestions that he could be moved on if a suitable offer materialises, with Chelsea well-stocked for attacking talent.

Friedel feels such speculation is premature and believes his fellow countryman will prove his worth in west London, adding: “I don’t think transfer talk should be spoken about right now.

“He needs to be fully fit for an extended period of time and, if he is, I would like to think that he will be in Tuchel’s plans because of his quality. But he does have to be fit for an extended period of time.”

Who else has a point to prove?

Pulisic is not the only USMNT player to have seen questions asked of their future in recent weeks, with Zack Steffen generating plenty of debate regarding his situation at Manchester City.

The 26-year-old started both of the United States’ qualifying clashes during the latest international break, but has taken in just four appearances at club level this season.

Sitting behind Brazil star Ederson in the pecking order at the Etihad Stadium has not stopped Steffen from committing to a new contract, but Friedel believes he needs to be finding more minutes in order to fulfil his potential and become a go-to option for the U.S.

He said: “I think everyone in the U.S. would like to see him playing regular football.

“It’s tough to turn down a contract at City. It’s a tough one. I’m sure he wants to play more regular football.

“I don’t know what the conversation is with him and Gregg [Berhalter] and if pressure is being put on him to play regular football, but I think that is one thing that might be separating Matt Turner from Zack at the moment, because Matt is playing regularly.

“But Zack is being coached by possibly the world’s best and training and playing with an array of great talent that is the world’s best.

“At some stage he is going to have to play. He is going to have to play somewhere. I don’t know if in the contract that if he isn’t in the first team by a certain time, will he go on loan again?

“I’m sure it’s a tough one because it’s hard to turn down a contract at Man City. It’s an easy choice to want to re-sign at City, to want to be coached by [Pep] Guardiola, to want to try and get yourself in that team, but a tough choice to sign a contract knowing that you’re still number two.”

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