Why Christian Pulisic could soon become the most successful American to play European soccer

Just a day after the clock struck midnight to ring in 2019 and the start of the winter transfer window, Chelsea announced that it has struck a deal worth $71.3 million for 20-year-old wunderkind Christian Pulisic. It's the most expensive transfer ever for an American player and the third-most expensive for the London club. 

Pulisic is expected to stay at Borussia Dortmund on loan for the remainder of the league season before making his way to Stamford Bridge this summer to embark on a new chapter in his already star-studded young career. Now that Christian Pulisic is officially a Chelsea player, it begs to question where he stands among the greatest American soccer players in Europe and where could he end up when is career is over? 

We've seen plenty of Americans make the leap across the pond to Europe in the past two-and-a-half decades. Several of them put together some fantastic careers, but Pulisic is widely considered one of the greatest American soccer talent we've ever seen and could set a new bar for those that rise through the ranks for years to come. 

How Pulisic stacks up to previous American players

Several of the biggest American soccer names have given European club soccer a try, but it hasn't always worked out well. Michael Bradley never really took off in Italy despite his move to Roma, Jozy Altidore had a good run in the Netherlands but struggled in Spain with Villarreal and Xerez and England with Hull City and then Sunderland. 

Landon Donovan, at the moment, is considered by most to be the best player the country has produced, but he kind of experiences some struggles in Europe. The American playmaker didn't do much for Bayer Leverkusen and he struggled on loan at Bayern Munich. His Everton tenure saw him score two goals in 22 games. When looking at the players that had the most impact, especially in attack, it comes down to Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey. Dempsey scored 72 goals with Fulham and Tottenham in the Premier League, while McBride scored 46 goals in seven seasons. 

Pulisic has accomplished a lot in little time

While there are more well-known players at this stage such as Donovan and even Alexi Lalas, the United States men's national team star from the 1990s with his eye-catching red locks and unique style, you can argue now that Pulisic has had as good of a career as any American has had in Europe, and he's just 20. He's played 115 games for Dortmund and has 15 goals, numerous assists and plenty of big moments, including goals in the Champions League. 

When it comes to playing, nobody has had his talent and made the impact he has at such a young age. He was the youngest non-German to score in the Bundesliga. 

He's what everybody wanted Freddy Adu to be, an American soccer prodigy that has the opportunity to star in Europe and take the sport to new heights in the United States, and he's just getting started. 

What he has to do in the future to get to No. 1

The only European career I'd put ahead of Pulisic's right now when it comes to an American is that of Clint Dempsey. He reached the Europa League final with Fulham but failed to win any trophies across the pond. He had seven seasons with Fulham in which five were really strong with 40-plus appearances, and then he had a solid season for Spurs in 2012-13, scoring 12 times in 43 games. Tim Howard had a really great run in Europe as a goalkeeper, but it's certainly difficult to compare the two positions. 

Dempsey did it at a high level in the Premier League for six years, while Pulisic potentially has over 10 unwritten season of Premier League ahead of him, barring any long-term injuries. 

Pulisic won the German cup in 2016-17 and could take home a Bundesliga title this season. 

At Chelsea, with his $73.1 million price tag, he's going there to play and likely right away. With aging players on the wing, there is a chance he could become a starter as soon as the beginning of next season. 

New Blues boss Maurizio Sarri likes those small attackers with pace that can create and score (he has Eden Hazard and then had Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens at Napoli), and he will likely see the ball plenty due to the style of moving the ball quickly and playing inside and outside. If he gets over 30 appearances a season and nears double-digit goals and or assists consistently, he'll be the greatest American soccer player in Europe just three seasons in. If he goes on to become a global star for the Blues and wins the Premier League and/or the Champions League, he will have rewritten what the world thought was ever possible for an American soccer player overseas. 

You'll be able to see Pulisic in the Premier League starting in August on fuboTV (Try for free). 

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CBS Sports Writer

Roger Gonzalez is an award-winning writer based in Virginia that has covered pro soccer from Europe's top clubs to Argentina's first division. Roger started out his pro soccer writing career with Goal.com... Full Bio

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