Former United States men’s coach Jurgen Klinsmann has said Christian Pulisic needs to become “nasty” to succeed at Chelsea.
Klinsmann, who oversaw Pulisic’s development at national level, said he admired the 21-year-old’s decision to move from Borussia Dortmund to England, but acknowledged the winger must do more to fit into the Premier League.
“You never know it’s the right fit unless you do it,” Klinsmann said.
“Christian did well to say: ‘I’m going to throw myself in another cold water, go over to London and throw myself in the Premier League, and I have to fight through the system there.’ So that’s what he’s in.
“He’s a very special player, he’s tremendously talented, but this is a big step, because Borussia Dortmund was also basically the club where he got formed into a professional player.
“He came out of the youth system there, he moved himself up, he had all the support within the club and now going to London — also to one of the biggest clubs in the world — you got to bring your elbows out.”
Pulisic spoke this week about his frustration at his lack of playing time at Chelsea, but Klinsmann said he believed he has the ability to fight for a place in Frank Lampard’s team.
“He will go through a phase now where more and more he needs to bring his elbows out to fight himself through the system there,” Klinsmann said. “Can he do it? Yes, absolutely he can do it, but you need to be patient too, sometimes you forget he’s a very young player.
“You’re basically in a daily competition. Maybe in Dortmund he knew: ‘I established myself already within the club to be a very special player. I get my minutes in, I get my games in, I’m a starter most of the time.’
“You don’t have that automatic assurance at Chelsea. At Chelsea it goes from game to game, week to week. You’re basically in training and you have to tell the coach: ‘I’m in, I’m going to start this game.’ So it’s a little bit more cold, it’s a bit more nasty.
“What I mean with the elbows is that you have to become nasty in order to make yourself a starter.”
Pulisic signed for Chelsea from Borussia Dortmund in January, but was immediately loaned back to the Bundesliga side before joining the Blues this summer.