Christian Pulisic says he won’t give up and he’ll keep pushing to earn his spot at Chelsea

October 9, 2019

Christian Pulisic has admitted he has been unable to ignore criticism of his slow start at Chelsea, but insisted the £58million price tag is not weighing on his shoulders.

The 21-year-old’s late cameo as an 80th-minute substitute in Sunday’s 4-1 win at Southampton was only his fifth Premier League appearance since joining the Blues from Borussia Dortmund in the summer.

Pulisic assisted fellow substitute Michy Batshuayi’s 89th-minute goal which completed a comfortable afternoon for the visitors. Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount put Frank Lampard’s side 2-0 ahead, before Danny Ings struck, only for N’Golo Kante to increase Chelsea’s lead five minutes before half-time.

Callum Hudson-Odoi impressed on his first League start since April, ­following Achilles surgery, adding to Lampard’s options in wide areas – a competition for places which has restricted Pulisic’s playing time.

Concerning his struggle to make an impact, 21-year-old Pulisic said: “You can’t completely ignore it. I don’t live under a rock. I hear things, I see things, but I do my best to block it out. I’m just working hard for myself. The outside opinions don’t matter as much to me as to what’s in the team, myself and the people who care about me. I’m just going to keep working and do my best and not worry about it.

“This number [£58m] doesn’t mean anything to me. Obviously, I go out and try to give my best every time I’m on the pitch. I’m not sure what the price tag means to you, but I just have to keep trying to perform at my best for myself and for the team.”

Pulisic showed his potential with a fine display in the UEFA Super Cup Final defeat to Liverpool but has started just three games since, with Lampard currently favouring Willian, Pedro, Mount and now Hudson-Odoi ahead of him. Chelsea’s head coach claimed “anyone getting too excited” about Pulisic’s frustrations should “calm down”, pointing out the American needed time to acclimatise to life in a new country and that he is a similar age to many of the club’s other young players given the chance to develop, including Mount, Abraham and Fikayo Tomori, who will all join up with Gareth Southgate’s England squad this week.

Pulisic, who has started five of Chelsea’s 12 competitive matches this seasons across all competitions, said: “Culture-wise, it’s been easier than Germany [to settle in], to be honest. From the football side, I guess you could say that [it has been more ­difficult]. Obviously, I haven’t been getting as many minutes as I would like. I will just keep going, keep pushing. I know my time’s going to come.

“I’m not just going to throw a fit and give up ever, so if I’m on the bench it doesn’t mean the gaffer doesn’t think I’m a part of the team, I’ve just got to keep pushing and earn my spot.

“[The manager] likes players who work very hard and show a lot in training and I just have to continue to do that, do my best in training and try to learn my position.”

Chelsea head into the international break fifth in the table, level with fourth-placed Leicester on 14 points and back on track in the Champions League after recording their first Group H win over Lille last week.

Asked to assess whether Chelsea were exceeding Lampard’s expectations, he said: “It is a difficult question because the expectations are hard to say, coming in fresh. We knew there would be challenges and then you can’t always assess where everyone else is going to be and what might happen. I feel we are a few points short of where we should be in terms of performance – and that’s not bad luck, that’s just being self-critical.

“Obviously, Liverpool are out on their own at the minute, but at this early stage we are in a nice position. The minute you relax in this League, it can all change very quickly.”