Frank Lampard praises Christian Pulisic
Frank Lampard has been heaping praise on USMNT winger Christian Pulisic.
[ MORE: How did Pulisic perform? ]
Pulisic, 21, made his UEFA Champions League debut for Chelsea away at Ajax on Wednesday, coming off the bench for the final 25 minutes and totally swinging the game in the favor of the Premier League team.
He must be pushing hard to start at Burnley this Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).
In his best minutes yet for Chelsea since his $73 million transfer from Borussia Dortmund in the summer, Pulisic caused havoc on the left flank in Amsterdam and set up Michy Batshuayi for the late winner to give the Blues control of Group H as they jumped above Ajax to top the group.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Lampard reserved special praise for Pulisic and revealed he’s been shutting out media speculation about why the American hadn’t been playing more at the start of the season.
“You have to give Christian huge credit because he looked so lively when he came on and the assist is just as important as the finish. The fact that a substitute scored makes me so happy because it’s not easy when you’re picking a similar team every week,“ Lampard said. “In terms of handling him, I basically tried to shut my ears to too much of the outside talk. With a big player, there’s a lot said and if you listen to it all the time, you can wonder what you’re doing.
“I understood the quality of Christian. I understood his young age. He’s just turned 21 recently and it’s a big move for him. And I have other options for him in those areas. Let’s give him full credit. He wants to know what I want for him, what the PL is like, what his new team-mates are like, that’s not always going to be an easy road. I’ve just stayed calm with it, I see the big picture with him. I want him to be successful at this club because he’s a good lad, he wants to do very well, that’s very clear.
“Acting like he’s acting, training like he’s trained the last two or three weeks, playing like he’s played the last two or three weeks obviously makes me very, very happy.”
Pulisic has now taken his chance in three straight games off the bench after a run of matches which saw him fail to have any minutes.
Against Southampton he came on for his first Premier League minutes in over a month to set up Batshuayi for a late goal and he then came on against Newcastle last weekend to totally swing the game in Chelsa’s favor as he came close to scoring, set up Tammy Abraham for what looked to be a clear goal and played an influential role in their game-winner.
Things have turned around very quickly for Pulisic at Chelsea and is happy, smiling and is being lauded by Chelsea’s fans and his teammates. Lampard was previously critical of Pulisic’s training and did urge for caution as the American settled into life in England.
With Callum Hudson-Odoi, Mason Mount and Willian all playing key roles so far in Lampard’s attack, the Pennsylvanian youngster is doing all he can to get a start in attacking midfield role.
That start, his first in the PL since Aug. 31, could come at Burnley on Saturday and that will be a physical, demanding test for the young winger.
After a disappointing few weeks on the bench, Pulisic said he would get his head down and work hard to get back into this Chelsea team.
That’s exactly what he is doing.