The Christian Pulisic saga, at least, is over. Chelsea have agreed to Borussia Dortmund’s demands, paying £58M for the player and accepting that he will remain at his current club for the second half of the season before joining in the summer.
This despite frequent links between Liverpool and Pulisic since before Jürgen Klopp joined, as well as claims last year the player preferred Liverpool. In the end, though, at the price Dortmund wanted, it appears they were never actually in for him.
Both The Liverpool Echo’s James Pearce and The Times’ Paul Joyce say that Liverpool were never serious contenders for Pulisic because, at this point, the club and Klopp believed he would not be able to regularly crack the starting eleven.
With the quality of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mané, as well as the impact Xherdan Shaqiri has made since joining the club, £58M for a rotation player who would arrive with just a year left on his current deal seemed excessive.
Chelsea fans celebrating the signing might rather believe they beat Liverpool to Pulisic, but it’s hard to argue with that assessment of the club’s current depth—or that, even in the current market, £58M for Pulisic appears a significant overpay.
It’s more than Liverpool paid for Naby Keïta, a delayed deal for a player who was one of the top three midfielders in Germany and had more than a year on his contract. It’s also more than they agreed for Nabil Fekir before that deal broke down.
That isn’t to say Pulisic doesn’t have the quality to make it look a fair price, but the 20-year-old isn’t yet that calibre of player and will need to develop further, with his struggles to get regular minutes with Dortmund this season proof of that.
Chelsea have paid £58M for a rotation player with a year left on his contract. No matter his potential, that’s steep. Meanwhile, Liverpool appear fully confident in their ability to keep their current attacking unit together heading for another season.
They will also expect to head into the summer with Harry Wilson back in the fold, with the 21-year-old having scored nine goals and two assists for Derby, where the loanee has made a strong case for having been their player of the season so far.
Liverpool, meanwhile, will be expected to strengthen at other areas in the summer, with a versatile attacker capable of covering the central position in Klopp’s system and a defender capable of covering left back of centre half considered priorities.