The time is ticking on Premier League clubs and their aspirations to land U.S. star Christian Pulisic before the new season starts, and at this stage the Borussia Dortmund midfielder should be content with letting the last drops of sand pass through the hourglass.
The 19-year-old Pennsylvania native has been supposedly linked to a who's who of top clubs, with Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester United and Real Madrid among the apparent suitors for his services. That's not all that new. As is common with many hot-property teen prospects, the "big-club" transfer rumors always swirl as soon as their star turn is apparent, and last summer featured a similar set of circumstances. Pulisic has been very diplomatic in publicly appreciating the outside interest while maintaining his happiness at Signal Iduna Park. It would appear that the stadium will remain his home for at least another season, as, according to ESPNFC, Dortmund has no desire to sell, nor has it received a formal offer–despite reports of a €70 million asking price–for his services.
After an up-and-down season a year ago–one that was navigated with the backdrop of the USA's failure to qualify for the World Cup–Pulisic's value hasn't really appeared to change all that much from what it was at this time last year. His skills are evident, his fearlessness in the moment clear and his promise just as bright.
So it's no wonder that English powers, buoyed by millions in shared TV rights revenue, would come knocking with the promise of the Premier League spotlight and greater earning power.
What they can't offer right now, though, is a bona fide better situation for Pulisic to walk into, nor should Dortmund feel compelled to sell a player who appears happy right where he is. His current contract runs through 2019-2020, which means the pressure to sell isn't at its peak just yet.
Going through the list of options, there's not one that screams "perfect match" to force the issue and rush a transfer through. Liverpool has Pulisic's former manager, Jurgen Klopp, and a system that absolutely could maximize his potential. But how often is Pulisic going to unseat Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane or even newcomer Xherdan Shaqiri in what is one of the world's preeminent attacking groups? New Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri's style of play could suit Pulisic, but the Blues' overall lack of stability–not to mention the club won't play in Champions League this season–isn't an ideal situation.
As for Tottenham, is that not, in many ways, akin to Dortmund? It boasts an exciting group of players, it's unlikely to win the league title, it's likely to finish top four and can challenge just about anyone on the European stage. Barring a personal affinity for Mauricio Pochettino or the desire to play at Spurs' new stadium, how much of a true step forward is that for the player?
Elsewhere, the Jose Mourinho Year 3 circus at Manchester United is no place to wander into at the moment, and Real Madrid, if its interest is true, is not exactly immune to volatility either–especially in a transition year following Zinedine Zidane and Cristiano Ronaldo's departures. Situation, playing time potential and fit all matter.
There's something to be said for leaving the status quo, finding a new challenge and enjoying the prestige of a lucrative move, but what's the rush? Dortmund will contend in Germany this season, at least for second place, it will compete in Champions League again and still offers Pulisic room for individual growth. It's true that the stability at Dortmund hasn't been the greatest. Lucien Favre will be Pulisic's fifth manager since he rose to the first team in the winter of 2015. But Dortmund has cultivated and raised Pulisic, giving him his first first-team chance and subsequent experience despite continuing to seek talent that could–and will–one day replace him.
There comes a time for most rising talents when it's the right moment to move on and find a new home, and it usually involves some combination of high stock, entering a final year of a contract and a European power looking to swing big. Pulisic is about a year away from getting there, and if he remains on the same course, his options should be just as plentiful. There's little to risk by staying put. There's a lot to risk by hurrying a move that doesn't need to take place.