Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has defended his decision to play with Christian Pulisic as a right-back, with an American forward being advised to “play a lot of minutes” while posting the “numbers” Tuchel feels he deserves.
The USMNT star is more comfortable at home in a wide offensive display, but has seen his versatility harnessed in recent weeks, with the talented 23-year-old regularly covering for his absent teammates.
He was used as a center forward when Romelu Lukaku was out of contention, and with the Belgian backing, Pulisic has now seen the time to replace the injured Reece James in a more defensive position.
What did Tuchel say about Pulisic’s versatility?
Tuchel can appreciate why questions are being asked about his decision to move Pulisic, but the German believes there are many positives a player who only has three goals and two assists this season can take.
The Chelsea manager told reporters, when asked if a United States international is filling too many seats, that ultimately, Pulisic will do everything he can to help the team. “Yes, it is true that we moved it a little,” said Tuchel about the American, “but in the end they want to play, and it is good if they can play in more positions.”
“You can always argue that it would have been more consistent or better if I had had a clear position,” Tuchel continued, “but maybe then you have fewer minutes or face even more competition, because up front we have two or three players in each position. So first of all it’s a good thing, it was also a bad sign because it means we had problems on the left and right side with injuries and he helped us there. We are happy with the impact it has. “
Tuchel also hinted to Pulisic that he would continue to participate in the team, despite the team regaining health and depth.
“He can play a lot of minutes, he needs to play a lot of minutes,” said Tuchel, “he has a physical ability that can help us. Of course everyone wants it to have numbers, everyone wants it to be effective and we can improve everyone, we can improve that. And from there we go, this is the situation ”.
Pulisic is part of a star-studded attacking unit at Stamford Bridge, with players like Lukaku, Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Kai Havertz also competing for playing time. Werner, Havertz and Hudson-Odoi have lost time over the last month due to positive tests for COVID-19, which creates some uncertainty for the team. However, Havertz and Werner have already returned and Hudson-Odoi is expected to do so soon.
Will Chelsea add players in January?
The Blues are well supplied in almost every area of the field except on the wing, where inappropriate punches are starting to take their toll, and there could be more additions in January.
Asked about his recruitment plans with an open winter window, Tuchel said: “We react daily to the situation, but the situation has not changed for us. No news, no updates. The areas are clear. We are researching the market and we have our ideas, but there is no need for pressure and certainly no need for public pressure.
“We are relaxed. I’m relaxed. I am happy with the players. I wish to have all the players here, so we take good care of them. Hopefully the guys who are injured will return as soon as possible and that there will be no new positive tests.