The Hidden Reason Chelsea Signed Christian Pulisic
Yesterday, Christian Pulisic announced his upcoming transfer to Chelsea F.C. in the summer of 2019. The transfer was expected, the only question was where to, after all Pulisic had been one of the most sought-after talents in world football over the last 18 months. The 20-year-old joined Borussia Dortmund at the age of 16 and went on to become a vital member of the squad.
The transfer was treated with excitement by U.S. soccer fans and quite rightly, the English Premier League is considered by many to be the greatest league in the world and no U.S. player has starred for a premier league team as big as Chelsea since Tim Howard left Manchester United in 2006. But an analysis of the deal brings into question the motive of the transfer. Mainly, was Chelsea motivated to make the deal for promotional reasons?
This isn't to say Pulisic isn't extremely talented or capable of succeeding in the premier league but the 73 million fee for a player who lost his place in the BVB squad this season seems excessive. Chelsea may have made the transfer as an attempt to capitalize on the value of signing a player from the United States, one of the most profitable and growing fan bases in the world. Signing Pulisic means Chelsea are signing the star of the U.S. Men's National Soccer team, which gives Chelsea a direct pipeline into the U.S. soccer fan base.
Chelsea are not and will not be the last high profiled club to sign a player with the sole motive of increasing revenue from an attractive fan base, the premier league champions are guilty of doing the same. Recently, Manchester City announced their acquisition of Erik Palmer-Brown and Zack Steffen, two of U.S. soccer's brightest young talents. Palmer-Brown, a 21-year-old center back who struggled in the MLS and Zack Steffen, a 23-year-old goalkeeper who moved back to the MLS after struggling in the Bundesliga - while both are talented, they are far from ever breaking into the Manchester City first team.
This is a trend with European football, an effort to penetrate the North American fan market as a way to increase revenue. This is the reason behind the exhibition games and tournaments played in the United States every year along with the MLS All-Star game which pits the league's best against a famous European club. La Liga, the first division in Spain, took their marketing plot to a whole new level when they announced they would play competitive games in the United States which drew the anger of various Spanish clubs. The United States is an attractive market for European clubs and the ultimate way to penetrate the American market is to sign the country's best players.
This may be wrong and Chelsea may genuinely see Pulisic breaking into the team over the likes of Willian, Pedro and Ross Barkley. Or the move may be in anticipation of Eden Hazard's potential exit. But for now, the deal seems every bit as promotional as it is quality based.
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