Chelsea have their own role models Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah ahead of £58m Tuchel move – Daniel Childs


It’s been over 18 months since Christian Pulisic started a major final for Chelsea.

The American was in the form of his life ahead of the 2020 FA Cup final against Arsenal and his first goal five minutes later demonstrated his growing influence.

With his electric speed and ruthless finishing, passing the ball to Pulisic sometimes felt like a cheat code for Chelsea. Then came the hamstring injury early in the second half that changed everything.

Since then, Pulisic has jumped backhand to backhand. There were small cheering spells followed by off-team spells, almost forgotten.

This Sunday’s Carabao Cup final offers Pulisic an important chance to course-correct and reshape the narrative surrounding his future at Chelsea.

It seems fitting that two of the most productive wide men in European football of the last five years are on the opposite side.

Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have scored 40 goals so far this season out of Liverpool’s 70 tally.

Their even inevitability in the final third became frightening and considering both scored against Chelsea the last time these two teams met. There is little doubt who Tuchel will aim to cancel on Sunday.

With Pulisic’s eye for a goal, there was hope he could have offered more over time.

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There’s the reality that Mane and Salah are at their peak, both 29 and polished players. At 23, Pulisic’s current age, Salah was still at Roma while Mane was in his final year at Southampton.

It will be difficult for many teams to discover players as effective in the market as Liverpool’s superstar duo, but both offer their rivals a role model to aim for.

Pulisic suffered several injuries which constantly interrupted the room for all rhythm and consistency. Signed from Borussia Dortmund for £58m, there’s a feeling this summer could provide a way out given his struggles.

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The 23-year-old is coming off a goal against Lille and two consecutive starts, confidently scoring the last time he faced Liverpool in January.

But that won’t necessarily guarantee him a start on Sunday with Mason Mount available again and Tuchel’s liberal use of rotation for specific opponents.

But in an attack that has always proven to be devoid of touch in goal, Pulisic has a knack for anticipating where a ball may land inside the box or getting on the end of crosses near the back post.

His pressing and quick move could again be aided by Tuchel aiming to repeat the problems caused to Klopp’s defense at Stamford Bridge last month in the Premier League.

A fresh start would give a massive vote of confidence to the left side of Chelsea’s attack against elite opposition.

It will be up to Pulisic to repay that trust and hopefully secure redemption after that unfortunate 2020 final.

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