When Christian Pulisic made the decision to leave central Pennsylvania — and, in doing so, take his immense talents to Borussia Dortmund in 2015 — at the tender age of 16, it was by all accounts the perfect move for his development. He had outpaced the United States soccer system and decided it was time to fine-tune his skills on an international level.
In January of 2016, at the age of 17, he made his Bundesliga debut against FC Ingolstadt, and just a month later played in the UEFA Europa League against FC Porto. At the time, Dortmund had a strong foundation of players that could provide actual competition to Bundesliga behemoth, Bayern Munich. Competing on a good team in the hunt against a world power like Bayern? It was ideal for a player widely thought to have the chance to be the best player the United States has ever produced.
Pulisic was afforded the chance to grow within the heralded Dortmund developmental system and subsequently move to the first team, while surrounded by the likes of Marco Reus, Mats Hummels, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ousmane Dembélé, and Mario Götze among others at various points during his tenure. With having that aforementioned talent around him, Pulisic has been forced to expand his game from primarily being a No.10 to being equally as effective on the wing.In addition to the variety of peers that have contributed to the development from hot prospect to legitimate force, Pulisic has been able to work under the influence of a variety of different coaches and styles with Thomas Tuchel, Peter Bosz, and for now, caretaker Peter Stöger. However, therein lies the issue.
The stability at Dortmund is, well, wobbly at best. Aside from roster turmoil and turnover, Dortmund is a rudderless ship drifting down the Bundesliga standings. While the Black and Yellows will always hold an integral part in Pulisic’s growth, it is time for the American to pack his bags and move on. But where?
Right now, the rumors are swirling that Bayern Munich, Liverpool, and Barcelona are all extremely eager to acquire the American talent. With its NBC deal, the Premier League is easily the venue to get Pulisic out in front of the most Americans on a weekly basis. As Pulisic opens more American eyes to the Bundesliga, however, a move to Bayern would optimize the big investment Bayern Munich has made to expanding its stateside presence, while also bolstering Fox Sports’ investment in the German league. With his ability to use both feet and his explosive speed, it is easy to see how Pulisic would represent a natural replacement on the wing for Bayern Munich as Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery enter the twilight of their respective careers.
Aside from Bayern’s network of affiliated youth soccer clubs, the Reds have a New York office and will embark on another Summer Tour in the States this year after the World Cup wraps up. Bayern has made an all-in effort to penetrate the U.S. market and bringing in Pulisic would further lock down its status as one of the most popular clubs Stateside.
Pulisic was an avowed Premier League and Manchester United fan in his younger days, but as a professional he undoubtedly will treat his next move with the utmost care from both an athletic and marketing standpoint. Pulisic is far more than a manufactured American savior (cough***Freddy Adu***cough) and now at the point where he is capitalizing on his value on the field and off. His next choice will be fascinating.
Whatever the next move may be, it is probably best to gather those Dortmund experiences now and attempt to shed the black and yellow in favor of greener (redder?) pastures this summer.