Premier League • England

Chelsea star got ‘so wound up’ with Tuchel after ex-boss torpedoed big Champions League promise

Christian Pulisic, Jorginho, Trevoh Chalobah, August 2022

Christian Pulisic has revealed how former Blues manager Thomas Tuchel left him seething with a U-turn on a big Champions League promise.

The USA international moved to Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2019 and first worked with Frank Lampard. But, after Lampard got the sack midway through the 2020/21 campaign, Tuchel stepped in.

The pair had a previous Borussia Dortmund connection, leading to subsequent excitement from Pulisic about reuniting with the German.

And while the winger only scored six goals and assisted four others in the 2020/21 campaign, he went through a purple patch on the way to Chelsea’s Champions League triumph.

Indeed, he scored a crucial semi-final goal against Real Madrid to set the second leg up brilliantly. However, Pulisic has now revealed in his upcoming autobiography how Tuchel let him down over his chance to shine.

“What happened before that game [Real Madrid second leg] was hugely disappointing for me,” the 24-year-old said.

“I’d had a really good first leg performance and our following match was against Fulham in the league.

“Tuchel told me that he was resting me for the second leg and as a result I didn’t play a single minute in the Fulham game.

‘Then on match day of the second semi, Tuchel tells me he’s changed his mind and he’s going with Kai [Havertz]. I honestly was dumbfounded and very disappointed.”

Pulisic added how Tuchel left him in the wrong mindset when he did eventually come on against Madrid at Stamford Bridge.

Pulisic reveals Chelsea frustration with Tuchel

“I thought that I’d earned a start and, most importantly, he had assured me previously I was going to start,” Pulisic said.

“So by the time he brought me on with about 25 minutes left, I was just so wound up.”

Nevertheless, Pulisic still had a crucial role in the second leg too, assisting a goal that helped send Chelsea to the final.

He was only a substitute again for the final, though, when Germany international Havertz netted the first-half winner.

From there, Pulisic’s goals and assists went up last season, to eight strikes and five assists. He also managed that improved tally in five fewer appearances.

This term, Pulisic has only started one Premier League match for Chelsea and failed to register a direct goal contribution.

Reports earlier in September revealed how Tuchel was reportedly willing to sell the attacker this summer. He is supposedly eyeing a bigger role under recently-appointed Chelsea boss Graham Potter.

Blues star faces defining season

The fact that Pulisic’s goal statistics improved season-on-season from fewer appearances was a sign he was onto something.

But despite managing that, he has never truly been able to nail down a starting Chelsea role.

Instead, he has just been one of several options. Raheem Sterling and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fresh ones after the latest transfer window.

And with Pulisic’s contract up at the end of next season, the current campaign is a massive one for the American.

Ideally, he needs to improve his goal and assist tally again. If he can reach double figures for both goals and assists, he may well earn a new contract.

Without that influence, though, there is always going to be a question mark over whether he deserves a new deal.

A key tangent this year is the World Cup. Pulisic is one of the USA’s star forwards and a strong tournament in Qatar can help prove some of his doubters wrong and also help earn him a new Chelsea deal.