Cesar Azpilicueta believes Christian Pulisic will become a “very important” player for Chelsea despite his lack of game time since joining the club.
Pulisic has featured in just four of Chelsea’s seven Premier League games so far this season and was left out of the squad for Wednesday’s trip to Lille in the Champions League.
Why is Lampard ignoring Pulisic? Five things to know…
- Pulisic was labelled Eden Hazard’s replacement when he arrived from Borussia Dortmund.
- But the American was signed while Maurizio Sarri was still Chelsea’s manager.
- Lampard has used Pulisic in just six games across all competitions this season.
- Depth in wide areas was the reason Lampard gave for dropping him from the squad to face Lille.
- The Chelsea boss said he wants his players to be “on edge” amid the competition for places.
Some Chelsea fans have called for Pulisic to be used more regularly despite an upswing in recent results. Indeed, Callum Hudson-Odoi’s return to action has made things even more difficult for Pulisic.
After the 2-0 victory over Lille, Lampard suggested dropping Pulisic will have put the players “on edge” as competition for places – particularly in wide areas – begins to increase.
Azpilicueta backed his manager’s decision but tipped Pulisic to make an impact over the course of the campaign.
“As the manager said, we are a group, we are all important on this long path, we are only in October,” said the Chelsea captain. “Sometimes the manager has to make decisions, but I see him [Pulisic] working hard in training.
“What I can say is to encourage him to keep working, because we know it is a new country, a new team, a bit of time of adaption is needed.
“I see him with the character working hard in training, and I’m sure he will be very important for us for the season.”
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“Very positive to see young lads involved”
Azpilicueta went on to praise the young players who once again impressed in Lille, two of whom – Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori – have been included in Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad.
Despite 21-year-old Pulisic’s omission from the group, Lampard has put faith in youth since entering the Stamford Bridge dugout, and it’s something Azpilicueta is pleased to see.
He added: “It was very positive to see these young lads involved in the Champions League, and a great experience for all of them.
“For a few of them it was their first Champions League game, for some of them it was their first game away from home. Hopefully we can all live that kind of night for a long time.
“It was a good result. We were coming from a difficult moment against Valencia. We knew Lille would be tough and they showed why. We were controlling the game well in the first 25 minutes until we conceded from a set-play. We had to dig in to get the three points.”