Chelsea have spent big on adding more firepower this summer, but Christian Pulisic is the man boss Frank Lampard is relying on more than any other.
‘Captain America’ arrived from Borussia Dortmund in 2019 and enjoyed an impressive debut campaign, albeit one hampered by injury.
Pulisic, who turns 22 this week, scored nine times in 25 games for the Blues in the Premier League, and 11 in 34 in all competitions.
The versatile winger also laid on 10 assists, in a campaign where injury and the onset of coronavirus left him sidelined for six months.
Following Project Restart, Pulisic was Chelsea’s most important player as Lampard’s men secured a top four finish shining in the final nine league games of the campaign, while also opening the scoring in the FA Cup Final loss to Arsenal.
This summer, with elder statesmen Willian and Pedro Rodriguez departing, Pulisic has been handed the club’s No.10 shirt, despite the arrivals of £72million Kai Havertz and Ajax playmaker Hakim Ziyech.
Pulisic has taken the shirt vacated by Willian, leaving his No.22 shirt from last season to Ziyech, while Havertz will don No.29.
According to Lampard, while both Ziyech and Havertz may have been keen to take the No.10, it is no less than the United States international deserves.
“I wanted him to have it because I felt like he deserved it and he wanted it,” Lampard told NBC’s Inside the Mind.
“He came last year and Willian was almost the man in waiting at the club to take the No.10 shirt and I think it was right he took it with his experience.
“When it became open I think what Christian delivered in his first year more than warranted that he gets the shirt and what it means.
“I know it means a lot, and there will be a few in that line to try and have that shirt. But I was keen for him to have it and very pleased to actually make the call.
“I called him, as he was home at the time, and I could sense he was happy and I get the sense now it’s another little push up for him where he can hopefully feel confident that he’s here, he’s No.10 and the responsibilities that come with that.
“I’ve got no worries with Christian. As I say, he’s hungry and the only thing we have to continue to do is manage him because he’s so fast and the way he plays, we have to manage and try to come away from those big injuries he had last year. That’s something we’re working on.
“We all know what a fit Christian Pulisic can do.”