Few European teams have underwent as many changes as Borussia Dortmund over the last few years.
When The Yellow Bees reached the UEFA Champions League final back in 2013, that team was headlined by certain Polish striker named Robert Lewandowski. In the 2015-16 season, Mats Hummels, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Adnan Januzaj and Ilkay Gündogan, among others, were still with the club. Most of them departed after that year, and although Mario Götze returned, the changes did not stop. Ousmane Dembele left before the start of the 2017-18 season. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang departed for Arsenal during the January transfer window this year. And Sokratis also joined the Emirates Stadium side this summer.
In other words: aside from Marco Reus, who has struggled with fitness and conditioning for the majority of the past three years, none of the other “big names” remain at Signal Iduna Park. This has been one of the big reasons why Dortmund have fallen from the contender status they had in the Bundesliga in the past. Right now, it seems as if Dortmund are several steps below Bayern Munich – who now have Lewandowski and Hummels, mind you – on the title race.
However, there is one player that can carry Dortmund back to relevancy. He goes by the name of Christian Pulisic.
The American attacking midfielder has been improving constantly, and despite the fact he is only 19 years old, he seems ready to embrace a bigger role within the squad. Sure, players like Reus, Götze and Shinji Kagawa will remain as influential pieces of the side on the attacking end. But the 2018-19 season is Pulisic’s time to show he can lead the way for Dortmund. He is showing it already in the International Champions Cup, as he contributed with two goals and one assist during Dortmund’s 3-1 win over Liverpool the last time out. It might have been nothing more than a friendly. However, it was the perfect stage for Pulisic to showcase how much he has grown over the past 12 months. After all, Liverpool are the reigning UEFA Champions League finalists. They are certainly NOT an easy opponent, even if they were not at full strength.
His rise to the top has been fairly quick, too. The USMNT international jumped to the first team during the 2015-16 season and scored two goals across nine Bundesliga appearances. By next season he had established himself as a regular first-teamer, and delivered three goals in 29 league matches. The departure of Dembele opened up a spot for him in the starting XI and he did not disapppoint last season; he finished with four goals in 32 games. It is not an impressive tally by any means, but we have to remember he is only 19 years old. He has AT LEAST eight or nine years before reaching his prime. And at the current pace, can you imagine his progress in three or four more years? We are talking about a 19-year-old player with Ballon D’Or potential.
Pulisic has played 97 matches for Dortmund across all competitions. During that time, he has 12 goals and 20 assists to his name. Talk about him being a double threat, huh?
Mind you, Pulisic has achieved all of this while becoming an integral part of the United States National Team. He has nine goals in 21 caps with The Stars And Stripes, and local pundits already see him as the best player on the squad. They expect Pulisic to carry them to the 2022 World Cup, and it seems as if that will have to be the case if the USMNT wants to return to the World Cup scheme following their disastrous elimination before the 2018 World Cup.
Pulisic is under contract until 2020 and some of the top teams in the world have already enquired about him. Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona have all been linked with a move for the 19-year-old superstar. But Dortmund do not want to commit the same mistake again. They seem ready to hold on to Pulisic until the player requests a move somewhere else.
That makes perfect sense. After all, he is expected to carry the side to relevancy sooner than later. And judging by both his numbers and his insane amount of talent, he seems to be the perfect man to do so.
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