Christian Pulisic insight: Scouting report, stats, transfer rating and more

By Oliver Fisher -

Christian Pulisic became AC Milan’s fourth signing of the summer earlier this week, joining from Chelsea on a four-year contract.

The USA international spent four seasons at Stamford Bridge having had four years at Borussia Dortmund before that, so he has made the decision to try a new adventure in a new league.

He joins Milan with winners medals for the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup plus the ability to play virtually anywhere across the forward line.

During his press conference on Thursday night, Pulisic spoke at length about his decision to join the club, the targets he has set and the position he prefers.

Back story

Has a rather interesting background compared to a lot of players given his origins in Hershey, Pennsylvania. He played in the academy of Brackley Town in England in 2005-06, before returning to his home country to play for Michigan Rush and PA Classics.

Pulisic began his professional career at German club Borussia Dortmund, where he raced through the system having played just 15 games before being promoted to the first team at the age of 17.

He became the youngest foreign player to score in the Bundesliga and it was in the 2017-18 season that he really broke through. His lively style of play and his eye for goal began to draw the eye of admirers in Europe.

How £58m Chelsea transfer Christian Pulisic was discovered in England aged just seven | London Evening Standard | Evening Standard

In his four seasons with BVB, he scored 2 goals in 9 Bundesliga games in 2015-16, 3 goals and 6 assists in 29 games the following season, 4 goals and 5 assists in 32 games in 2017-18 and 4 goals and 4 assists in his final campaign.

In January 2019, Pulisic moved to Chelsea in a transfer worth over €60m, making him the most expensive North American player of all time.

He became the youngest Chelsea player to score a hat-trick at the age of 21 and it was a perfect hat-trick too (right foot, left foot and a header).

He won the 2020–21 UEFA Champions League, the 2021 UEFA Super Cup and 2021 FIFA Club World Cup with the Blues, but his playing time decreased over time and the injury breaks increased.

At international level, Pulisic played for the United States at U15 and U17 level and he made his senior debut at age 17. He was named best young player of the tournament at the Gold Cup in 2019, by which point he was the captain.

Since then, he has been labelled as the face of American ‘soccer’ and has even earned the nickname ‘Captain America’, something he is not a big admirer off.

Playing style

It is to be noted that Pulisic has played under three different managers at Chelsea and therefore his playing style varied under the different coaches. His best season came under Frank Lampard when Lampard preferred a 3-4-2-1 which sometimes worked as a 3-5-2.

Lampard preferred a 3-4-2-1 formation where he preferred his team to keep their off the ball structure and break on counter using their speed.

Usually Pulisic would function alongside Giroud played as the furthest two men upfield trying to break and exploit the space left by the full-backs.

Blessed with incredible close control and acceleration, Pulisic is extremely hard to knock off the ball and this meant he would often get fouled a lot.

Even though he wasn’t a great visionary passer, Pulisic would often create one-two passing combinations with Giroud for rapid ball progression.

His skill set is a potent weapon for teams that play during transition. During Lampard’s tenure, Pulisic played more inside than the wide areas sometime facing the areas between the half space and the touchline always looking to dribble inside rather than a cross.

Under Potter, he played as a left winger in a 4-3-3 formation. Often staying wide, he dragged the full back towards the wide areas to make space for Mason Mount who played as the mezzala in the midfield three.

In a more traditional winger role, Pulisic would hug the touchline and try to cross. the ball but his initial instinct is to always scan the environment and dribble the ball with progression.

In this game Nottingham Forest have settled into a mid-block, therefore Pulisic comes out of his position to receive the ball and spread the play.

Although he wasn’t a great passer/crosser with time he has inculcated this into his skillset making very accurate crosses.

Pulisic has always been very aware of his surroundings. He did not try to dribble past players all the time, and if the option was not there he would look to make a safe pass and keep possession instead of risking a turnover.

When playing for Lampard’s Chelsea, Pulisic was mostly expected to keep shape and as the first line of defence, so as not give space between the line and to cover passing lanes.

However, under Potter who played a more expansive style of play, Pulisic had to cover for Cucurella/Chillwell whenever they would join the attack and then become vulnerable to counters. Pulisic would track back and help out in defence as well.


Technical ability: First touch and close control. For any player that players in the forward areas, it is imperative that they have these two qualities because they have to move quickly before defenders close down the space.

Acceleration: In terms of top speed, Pulisic may not be the quickest, but to reach his top speed it dosent take long and his ability to turn defenders and accelerate leaving space between him and the defender is extremely hard to defend especially in terms of transitions.

Ability to receive in tight areas (press resistance): With his excellent first touch, Pulisic is resistant to being pressed as he cannot be dispossessed easily.

Isolation: Pioli in his recent press conference spoke of how he needed wingers to be good in 1v1 ability. With acceleration and good touch, Pulisic can beat his man and take defenders out of the game.

Areas to improve

Injury prone: It’s not a secret. Christian Pulisic’s injuries are extremely demoralising. He has missed as many as 14 games last season and with an extremely competitive squad at Chelsea he has seen game time come and go.

Aerial ability: Standing at 5ft 10, Pulisic isn’t the most aerially dominant player and not a very big asset for set pieces. Although he has a good leap he rarely participates in serial duels.

Statistical comparison

To get a better evaluation of Pulisic’s number we take a dive into his 19/20 season with Frank Lampard. A season where he had nine goals and fiur assists in the season.

With an xG (Expected Goals) of 9 and with 9 goals scored, it means he was clinical that particular season. Whenever he got a chance he took it. His expected assists were 2.7 from which he got 4 assists.

When looking at Shot Creating Actions, Pulisic had almost 4.55 shots per 90 while he had 0.84 Goal Creating Action per game which is a very healthy number. It is worth nothing that he average almost one Goal Creating Action per game.

The best way to measure 1v1 dribble is to measure Successful Dribbles per 90. And Pulisic average 2.88 successful take-ons per 90. Lastly, Pulisic draws 1.57 fouls per game and has an aerial duel success of 30.8%.

In the graph below:

Y Axis = Shot Creating Actions + Goal creating actions
X Axis = Take ons completed per 90


Pulisic in his best season has stats that match that of Rafa Leao, our best attacker. He has a high amount of Shot and Goal creating actions and he has extremely superior 1v1 ability. A certainly good upgrade on Diaz if he stays fit

Where Pioli could use him

Something still in its molten form, Pioli’s ideas are yet to take shape for the new seasons. Rumours about changing to a 4-3-3 or keeping a 4-2-3-1 are still flying around with Milan still making their moves on the market.

As somebody who likes to progress the ball with carries (dribble) more than passing it will massively help Pioli in his transitional style of play. Averaging almost 5.6 carries per 90, Pulisic has shown that he can provide the impetus needed to go forward.

With his ability to receive the ball in tight areas in opposition half he can use his dribbling ability to either draw defenders towards himself or dribble past defenders to create chaos in the opposition half. He receives the ball nearly 9 times per 90 minutes from the defensive half.


As they have often done before, Milan have once again placed their bet on another under-appreciated and perhaps under-valued talent in world football.

One aspect of this deal that does not get spoken about is the marketing one. RedBird Capital would like to make the Milan brand grow in the USA and they feel that Pulisic deal certainly wont harm.

If Milan can keep Pulisic injury-free and Pioli can manage his work load then Milan have a very potent weapon on their hands who will be relishing the chance to show his ability in a

Transfer rating: 8/10

Tags AC Milan Christian Pulisic


  1. “If he stays fit” was the line that was used when they described him when he was joining Chelsea. Unfortunately, he was injured every season. I hope he will end up being useful anyway.

    1. Our league is less physical than EPL. hopefully that works to our advantage otherwise we got ourselves another Origi.

  2. Techniquement il est très bon, il sera très utile à condition qu’il soit entouré de bon bons joueurs et placé dans un bon système de jeu c’est tout.

  3. He’s a 4/10. A massive gamble. The minute he breaks down, and he will, we’ll all be telling you we told you so, just as some of us did when the useless cripple Origi was signed.

  4. Focus should be on staying fit. All else will follow. The talent and ability is there.
    I think Pioli will consider him for AMC position

  5. It’s a steal for AC Milan at $20m. He and Giroud pair well together. He’s both strong on the wing but also finds spaces instead, and his runs off the ball open up space for teammates. Pioli has implied he might be a 10.

    The guy will literally give his testicles up for the team, if anyone saw his goal in the World Cup vs. Iran. He’s 24 and his best seasons are ahead of him. Looking forward to the season…

    1. 1/4 of the budget is not a steal.

      2022-2023. 24 games. 1 goal. 1 assist = 2 goal involvements
      2021-2022. 22 games. 6 goals. 2 assists = 8 goal involvements
      2020-2021. 27 games. 4 goals. 2 assists = 6 goal involvements
      2019-2020. 25 games. 9 goals. 6 assists = 15 goal involvements
      2018-2019. 20 games. 4 goals. 4 assists = 8 goal involvements
      2017-2018. 32 games. 4 goals. 6 assists = 10 goal involvements
      2016-2017. 29 games. 3 goals. 8 assists = 11 goal involvements

      He’s no upgrade on Messias:

      2022-2023. 25 games. 5 goals. 2 assists = 7 goal involvements
      2021-2022. 26 games. 5 goals. 2 assists = 7 goal involvements
      2020-2021. 36 games. 9 goals. 4 assists = 13 goal involvements

      You have to go back 4 seasons for Pulisick’s last great season. That’s an outlier. As for injuries, they shoot horses for this:

      22/23. Knee Problems. 59 days
      21/22. Ankle Injury. 52 days

      20/21. Muscle Injury. 24 days
      20/21. Hamstring Injury. 63 days
      20/21. Calf Strain. 21 days

      19/20. Tear in the abductor muscle. 156 days
      19/20. Groin Injury. 12 days

      18/19. Torn muscle bundle. 20 days
      18/19. Torn Muscle Fibre. 16 days

      He’s averaged over 100 missed days a season in the last 3 years. I’m furious that the ultras didn’t protest this signing. When management can’t see what average fans can’t see, you need new management.

      Some fans support any garbage a club signs. You will all turn on him, mark my words.

      1. Well this is harsh but true. However I believe in the fellow, and will actually mark your words. Do you have any way I can reach you, to say “you were right?”.

      2. You obviously spent a lot a time trying to come up with a way to tear the man down and rooting for him to fail. Yes Puli has had some bad luck with injuries, which aren’t all in his control especially the last knee injury which came from a cheap table. He has talent and heart and if used right a team can capitalize on it. Chelsea managers weren’t willing to use him to his strength and therefore too many times he was playing cold and out of position of strength. Which isn’t good for him or the team. That speaks more to Chelsea than Pulisic. Chelsea has a history of misusing young players that go on to solid careers so fingers crossed he proves you wrong not that your opinion matters.

        1. Injuries have nothing to do with bad luck, they point to deficiencies in a players physical condition, they are evidence that an athlete’s body is weak. It’s the same in all sports. If an athlete in injury prone from a young age, they do not suddenly become fit and strong. You can look at tennis, cricket, MMA, it doesn’t matter. That a club like Milan are wasting hard earned money on a player that will break down is unforgivable.

  6. Pulisic’s injury history is overblown. It’s not that much greater than many other top players who get injured and come back good as new.
    Chelsea as a team was just not a good fit for him for several reasons:

    1. Chelsea always had a massive excess of attacking talent, and so every time he was injured, he had to fight for his place again. EVERY season, Chelsea routinely buys at least one, and sometime three or more new forwards. During his first season with Chelsea, his most productive one, Chelsea was under a transfer ban, and Lampard had a limited number of forwards to play, and so Pulisic got his chances.

    2. After Lampard, Tuchel and Potter both favored defensive styles with wingbacks, ball control, and slow offensive buildups with lots of sideways and backpassing. With the heavy fouling characteristic of the Premier League, opponents learned to neutralize Pulisic by just fouling him, constantly, which often would not get called as a foul. Pulisic’s skill set, as mentioned in this article is BEST suited for a fast breaking, counterattacking, direct style of offense, which only Lampard in his first year at Chelsea employed. In such a fast breaking offensive system, there is less opportunity for defenses to just foul him. This was the second reason he was so successful that first year, and did poorly afterwards.

    3. Under Tuchel and Potter, Pulisic was often played only as a sub, and frequently was put in as a WINGBACK. Let’s hope Pioli has this part figured out. Pulisic IS NOT A WINGBACK. Defense is not his strong suit, and he is not a great wingback because wingbacks have to play defense.

    So, under a coach that plays Pulisic somewhere on the forward line, or as a central attacking midfielder, and uses a fast breaking, direct offensive system, Pulisic can be very, very deadly.

    1. Overblown? Absolute nonsense. Most professional players don’t miss 100 days in a season. He’s one of the most injury prone players in any of the top leagues.

        1. Support him why? If you don’t like a player and he joins Milan we suddenly forget everything? No. He’s a waste of money. When a coach and directors can’t even do something as simple as using Google and ignore a player’s past, they’re incompetent and not fit for their jobs.

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