In all likelihood, Christian Pulisic has played his last game for Chelsea. The 24-year-old United States winger has just a year left on his contract at Stamford Bridge, playing a mere 1,012 minutes this season, and the Blues are desperate to receive transfer fees to help offset some of the market-warping spending they’ve engaged in for the past 12 months.
That makes Pulisic a prime candidate to be moved out of west London when the transfer window opens (June 14 in the U.K. and July 1 elsewhere in Europe). If his time is indeed up at Chelsea, where could he land?
Sources told ESPN’s Mark Ogden that Juventus are leading the race to sign the former Borussia Dortmund starlet. Pulisic could be available for a £20 million transfer fee, sources say, but his £13m-a-year wages could prove a stumbling block for Juventus or any other interested clubs.
AC Milan, Manchester United, Newcastle United and Napoli all have been approached with details on the transfer fee and wage structure required to conclude a deal for Pulisic. Additional sources have told ESPN that Atletico Madrid also hold an interest in him.
How could the Pennsylvania native fit with any of these clubs? And which of them have the finances to pull off such a transfer? We asked our writers scattered throughout Europe for more insight.
This is a very interesting option for Pulisic. AC Milan have been very good in their recruitment in the past few years, until last summer, when their new signings didn’t really satisfy — Malick Thiaw, Divock Origi, Charles De Ketelaere, Sergino Dest, Aster Vranckx. This summer, they have to get it right.
They will still look for players under the age of 25, with a transfer fee of less than €40m, experience and a point to prove. Milan like a coup in the transfer market, such as the ones they pulled off with the signings of goalkeeper Mike Maignan, centre-back Fikayo Tomori and playmaker Brahim Diaz. They believe Pulisic could have a similar impact.
With Rafael Leao on the left wing, they need someone strong on the opposite flank, where none of Alexis Saelemaekers, Ante Rebic or Junior Messias has fully convinced. Milan need someone like Pulisic. Even if he is at his best on the left, where Leao plays, the club believe he can do a great job on the right as well.
The team has been heavily reliant on the Portuguese talent in the past two seasons, and to get better, they need another top winger. Pulisic is on their shortlist for that reason. It also makes sense for them economically in terms of the marketing of the club in the U.S. — Julien Laurens
It’s not immediately clear where a winger like Pulisic would fit into this Atletico Madrid side, with coach Diego Simeone tending to rely on his wing-backs — usually Yannick Carrasco on the left, and Nahuel Molina on the right — to give the team width.
Carrasco is a potential departure this summer, though, with Barcelona waiting to decide whether to exercise the option that they secured on the player as part of the Memphis Depay deal, and that would leave a vacancy at left wing-back that Pulisic could fill, if he’s willing to do more defending than he’s used to.
Atletico’s finances are tight, though, and their planning so far for this summer has focused on bargain free-transfer deals for out-of-contract players, such as Leicester City centre-back Caglar Soyuncu, rather than big spending. The likelihood of a move for Pulisic would depend on how much Chelsea are willing to compromise on a fee. — Alex Kirkland
The situation in Turin is quite similar to the one in Milan: Juventus need a winger. When Juve play with three up front, Federico Chiesa is an automatic starter and a key player on one of the two flanks, but on the opposite side, there is a gap to fill. Angel Di Maria is leaving, Filip Kostic is not up to the necessary standard and Samuel Iling-Junior is still too raw (and more of a wing-back). That’s the extent of the club’s wide ranks.
Juventus need a good player in that position. Badly. The brief, which Pulisic fits, is a player under the age of 25 with pace who could take some attention away from Chiesa and is available for a good deal. Pulisic would offer Juve different options: as a winger or an inside No. 10 in a front three, or as a second striker alongside Dusan Vlahovic or Arkadiusz Milik. He can play on the right, on the left or in the middle.
Juventus like a bargain, as we have seen in the past. Money could be difficult for them to find this summer, though, so it could take some creativity to pull off a deal. One example would be asking Chelsea for a loan with an option to make the move permanent in summer 2024, which would require Pulisic agreeing to add another year to his contract at Stamford Bridge. That, however, wouldn’t address the Blues’ need to raise funds this summer. — Julien Laurens
Manchester United have looked at Pulisic in the past but it’s highly unlikely that he ends up at Old Trafford this summer, even if Chelsea are actively trying to move him on. Erik ten Hag’s priorities are a striker and a central midfielder, and the Dutch manager has already been told that he will be working with a budget of between £100m and £150m, with anything generated through sales added on top. There won’t be much room for luxury signings.
Ten Hag wants two quality players in each position and he already has Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, Antony and Alejandro Garnacho in the wide areas. He has also been impressed by Facundo Pellistri this season, while Amad Diallo is set to rejoin the squad ahead of the preseason tour of the United States after scoring 14 goals on loan at Sunderland.
United’s squad is in desperate need of improvement in some areas, but in others, Ten Hag has plenty of options. Regardless of whether he likes Pulisic as a player, he has other positions to focus on.
If Ten Hag gets his way, United will start next season with a world-class No. 9 and an established midfielder added to his squad. It’s possible that, if the summer window doesn’t go well and the club are scrabbling around for stopgaps close to the deadline, Pulisic might end up back on their radar. As things stand, though, there are no plans for United to follow up their previous interest. — Rob Dawson
For Napoli, the Pulisic option is not a priority in the sense that they are looking for a winger, but not an automatic starter. The newly crowned Serie A champions fully expect star left winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia to stay at the club, as well as Matteo Politano and Hirving Lozano, the Italy and Mexico internationals who alternated well on the opposite flank throughout their title-winning campaign.
The Neapolitans do want another winger to add to their squad, and their interest in Pulisic is real because he is the kind of talent they would aim for, especially with his age and his versatility of being able to play on the left or the right. However, would they pay a transfer fee of around €40m for him, on top of his wages, considering he might not be a starter? Maybe not.
That said, they want and need to strengthen their squad in the summer if they’re to defend their title next season and go further in the Champions League, and Pulisic would be a great signing for them in that sense. He would enjoy the challenge of playing for such passionate fans and for a club on the way up. — Julien Laurens
Newcastle will play in the Champions League group stage next season for the first time since 2002-03, so manager Eddie Howe needs to add quantity and quality to his squad at St. James’ Park. At 24, Pulisic has European experience in abundance with Chelsea and Borussia Dortmund, not to mention the winners’ medal he earned with Thomas Tuchel’s Blues in 2021.
Signing Pulisic would give Newcastle the key Champions League knowledge that Howe’s squad lacks, but the USMNT forward would also offer versatility in terms of his ability to play anywhere across the front three. Howe’s teams are built on flexibility and commitment from his players, so Pulisic would fit the bill at Newcastle.
Having endured a frustrating four years at Chelsea, though, what Pulisic needs now is the prospect of playing regular football for whichever club he joins. There are no guarantees he will get that at St. James’ Park.
Callum Wilson and Alexander Isak are the obvious options through the middle, while Howe has transformed the performances of Miguel Almiron since taking over at the club 18 months ago. Allan Saint-Maximin is another player who has delivered for Newcastle in the forward line, so Pulisic would face a similar situation as at Chelsea, albeit with less competition for places than in the overcrowded Stamford Bridge locker room.
With Chelsea looking for a transfer fee of around £20m, and Pulisic earning £250,000 a week right now, the figures involved would be well within Newcastle’s budget if the club pursue a move for the player. — Mark Ogden