Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel has praised Christian Pulisic’s “huge progress” in the last weeks and explains why the winger can be a “huge player” for the team.
The 22-year-old kept his place in the starting line-up in the Champions League quarter-final second-leg clash against Porto in midweek and had a fine man-of-the-match performance despite the defeat.
It does not sound much, but for Pulisic, it was his only his second consecutive starts under Tuchel — and a sign that the manager trusts him.
According to Tuchel, it has all been down to Pulisic’s effort on the pitch and in the training ground as he insisted that the winger will play a huge role in his Chelsea plans.
“Absolutely, he’s made huge progress, he was fantastic in the last games,” Tuchel said about Pulisic at his press conference on Friday.
“[He needs] to be calm, trust himself in terms of his injury, full fitness, and capability, [and] be aware that I trust him — these are important for him to show his full potential.
“Once he’s in that zone, he’s a key player, a huge player.
“And he has now had big, big performances for us because he has a huge impact physically, but also in terms of quality, dribbling, runs, and arriving in the box in crucial moments.
“He’s stepped up, and I’m very, very happy about this in the last weeks and games.”
The fact that Pulisic was fouled a lot in the second leg but did not show any hesitation and kept asking for the ball showed that he himself is confident about his body despite his injury record.
Obviously, most Chelsea fans would prefer if he could be more cautious at times, but drawing fouls is perhaps just an inevitable with his direct playing style.
As Tuchel pointed out, Pulisic and his dribbling ability are important to the team, and his resilience ensures that he can offer that part of his game to the team.