Christian Pulisic would not have been targeted by Chelsea had Frank Lampard been making recruitment calls, says Chris Sutton, with the United States international facing a “major issue” at Stamford Bridge.
The 21-year-old was acquired by the Blues over the summer, with a £58 million ($71m) deal with Borussia Dortmund having been agreed in January.
Maurizio Sarri was at the helm when that move was made, but the Italian walked away from west London at the end of last season to pave the way for Lampard to return to his spiritual home.
The Chelsea legend is putting considerable faith in youth, but Pulisic is struggling to prove his worth in that system.
He is considered to be an exciting prospect, but isstill finding his feet in English football and lacking competitive minutes as a result.
Former Blues striker Sutton fears Pulisic’s situation is unlikely to improve any time soon as he faces fierce competition for places and a battle to convince a coach that never really wanted him that he can play a prominent role.
“He has to prove himself,” Sutton told Radio 5 Live.
“Frank Lampard has no agenda against him, he’s picking the best possible team to win games of football, that’s his job.
“He wasn’t Frank’s signing, of course.
“With [Callum] Hudson-Odoi and Mason Mount coming to the fore, he’s going to have a major issue getting into the starting line-up. I really do think that. I don’t see a way in for him at the moment.
“Fifty-eight million, a lot of money to spend and it would be interesting to ask Frank now if he would sign him at this moment in time if he hadn’t signed him before? The answer to that, I think, is pretty obvious – he wouldn’t.
“But, there’s a reason Chelsea spent the money on him, he’s still a young man and got enormous talent, he has to go out and show it. It’s good for Frank in terms of strength in depth.”