Raphael Honigstein labelled Christian Pulisic the “Lionel Messi of the United States” and backed him to bolster Chelsea’s global brand.
Chelsea completed a €64m deal to sign Pulisic from Borussia Dortmund in January before loaning him back to the club for the remainder of last season.
It enabled the Blues to secure their capture of Pulisic before the start of FIFA’s two transfer window ban, which begins this summer. Therefore, they will have to wait until next year to make any more signings.
And hopes of having the suspension overturned appear to be remote, with Chelsea left with very little time to lodge an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
So, 20-year-old Pulisic plans to cut short his summer holiday and head over to Chelsea to prepare for next season once the USA’s Gold Cup campaign has ended.
The winger’s impressive four-season stint in Germany won him plenty of admirers, who expect much more from him in the future. However, Pulisic may have to step up sooner than expected at Chelsea following Eden Hazard and Maurizio Sarri’s exits.
While doubting that Pulisic will be able to replace Hazard right away, though, Honigstein reckons the American will take Chelsea’s international profile to a whole new level.
“He won’t be able to fill Hazard’s boots just yet,” said the German football expert, according to Daily Star.
“But I think there’s a real player there who can develop and who with the right coaching and confidence can go to a really high level.
“Also he will add a lot to Chelsea’s international brand recognition.
“He is the Messi of the United States, we should not underestimate just how much of an impact and of a following this guy has.
“Immediately Chelsea will become the most-watched team in America simply because he’s there.
“OK maybe Manchester United and Liverpool with their historic fanbases will disagree but the neutrals will all start watching Chelsea.
“It’s interesting because despite what Sarri said in public, it’s my understanding that there were discussions with him and Pulisic before [the deal was done].
“I think Pulisic made a decision partly based because Sarri was convincing and said a lot of stuff that he felt was very, very interesting and could help him become the player that he can be.
“I’m not saying [Frank] Lampard can’t do the same but it is a very different Chelsea that he’s joining. It’s not going to be easy but I believe in him.
“I think he’s quite tough and there were also signs recently towards the end of the Bundesliga season that saw him rediscover his touch.
“He lost himself a little bit. Maybe now his future’s clear he plays with a bit more freedom.
“We can see that the money and the plaudits are warranted, there is a real player in there.”