Commentary

Pulisic, amid $30 million transfer rumors, forges on with Dortmund

By Mike Woitalla
@MikeWoitalla

Borussia Dortmund’s 2-2 tie, in which 18-year-old American Christian Pulisic started, with Real Madrid at the Bernabeu earned Dortmund a first-place finish in Group F of the UEFA Champions League. Dortmund also broke the record for most goals scored in the UCL group stage.

Pulisic played in all six of Dortmund’s Group F games, starting in five and famously coming off the bench in Dortmund’s first game against Real Madrid to set up the equalizer of their first 2-2 tie.

On Wednesday, Real Madrid took a 2-0 lead in front of 79,500 home fans on two goals by Karim Benzema. Dortmund pulled within one on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's goal in 60th minute, shortly before Pulisic was subbed by Marco Reus, who scored the equalizer in the 88th minute.

It marked the first time in 14 years that a team overcame a two-goal deficit against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.

Reus’ strike ensured Dortmund the group win over the Champions League defending champion and marked its 21st goal of the group stage. The 21 goals beat the record of 20 held by Manchester United (1998-99), Barcelona (2011-12 and this season) and Real Madrid (2013-14).

The Champions League draw for the round of 16 takes place on Monday in Nyon, Switzerland.

Group A: Arsenal (winner), Paris Saint-Germain (runner-up)
Group B: Napoli (winner), Benfica (runner-up)
Group C: Barcelona (winner), Manchester City (runner-up)
Group D: Atletico Madrid (winner), Bayern Munich (runner-up)
Group E: Monaco (winner), Bayer Leverkusen (runners-up)
Group F: Borussia Dortmund (winner), Real Madrid (runner-up)
Group G: Leicester City (winner), Porto (runner-up)
Group H: Juventus (winner), Sevilla (runner-up)

The seeded group winners go into one pot and the runners-up in another. The seeded teams cannot face a team from its own group or same nation. Which means Dortmund’s opponent for the first leg of the round of 16 on Feb. 14 or 15 will be Paris Saint-Germain, Benfica, Manchester City, Porto or Sevilla.

Going into the 2016-17 season, there were questions over whether Pulisic, who debuted in the Bundesliga the previous season at age 17 and played nine games, would get much playing time, because Dortmund spent more than $100 million on new talent. But besides appearing in every Champions League game, Pulisic has played in 10 of Dortmund’s 13 Bundesliga games, scoring twice and assisting on four goals.

Before Wednesday’s game against Real Madrid, rumors swirled that Pulisic, who has a contract through 2019, was being courted by other clubs, big time.

Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp, who was at Dortmund’s helm when Pulisic signed his pro contract in 2015, is looking for reinforcements during the winter transfer window and according the Daily Mail Liverpool is willing to spend more than $30 million on a transfer fee to get Pulisic.

Also interested in the Pennsylvania product, according to the rumor mill, are Tottenham, Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain.

How reliable these reports and the money figures are is difficult to verify. (Last summer, Dortmund reportedly rejected a $12 million offer for Pulisic.) But Dortmund Sporting Director Michael Zorc is on the record as saying a week ago that, “It's not worth the effort for Liverpool” to make a bid.

In early November, Zorc told Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl: “There have been some offers for him in the summer window from England and from German clubs, but we would like to have him here and develop him here. We didn’t educate him to sell him.”

Zorc added that Dortmund, which pays its players more than $3 million per year on average, is ready to renegotiate Pulisic’s deal.

The latest stage at which a U.S. product has seen UEFA Champions League action was in the semifinals, when DaMarcus Beasley played for Dutch club PSV. Whatever Pulisic’s long-term future is, expect him to be with Dortmund to aim for that milestone in 2017.

12 comments about "Pulisic, amid $30 million transfer rumors, forges on with Dortmund".
  1. beautiful game, December 7, 2016 at 11:32 p.m.

    At this stage in his career, the EPL is the wrong league for Pulisic.

  2. Othon Castillo, December 8, 2016 at midnight

    He has a world of potential. He truly needs to be careful with his development and take the long term perspective. Basically, if he can fetch 30 mil now, imagine how much more he will be worth if he is properly developed.

  3. Vince Leone, December 8, 2016 at 12:22 a.m.

    I agree that a move to the EPL would not be best. As long as he continues to see the field, he's probably best off right where he is. He's obviously making lots of progress at Dortmund and is learning their technical style. The EPL might set him back.

  4. R2 Dad replied, December 8, 2016 at 12:56 a.m.

    ...and grind him down. Between the fast pace, physical nature and lack of holiday break, the EPL would disrupt his development. Who knows--by 2018 bigger fish than Liverpool might be interested.

  5. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, December 8, 2016 at 11:31 a.m.

    Exactly. Liverpool might pay higher wages and they have achieved more historically than Dortmund but Dortmund is a bigger and better club right now. Dortmund are right to wait. If he keeps playing well, his price tag will continue to rise.

  6. John Mcdermott, December 8, 2016 at 3:11 a.m.

    Borussia Dortmund have done a very good job of bringing him along and that's where he needs to stay for a couple of years to complete the process. He's off to a great start. But the last thing he needs now is a move to a different club. For what? He's already starting at one of the best clubs in Europe.

  7. Quarterback TD, December 8, 2016 at 10:27 a.m.

    This players is one of the best talent right now and what he needs is a physical league that will make him more tactical hence the EPL is best.. Ronaldo, Suarez all did something similar.. key is he must start and play quality minutes against quality teams..

  8. R2 Dad replied, December 8, 2016 at 10:44 a.m.

    ...like Middlesbrough, Crystal Palace, Burnley, Leicester City, West Ham United, Sunderland, Hull City, and Swansea City? That's 1/3rd of the table and they're all in a relegation battle. The EPL is where he should go for his last big contract, hopefully to a team in the top 4 (champions league).

  9. Darvin Loredo replied, December 8, 2016 at 2:34 p.m.

    When Suarez went to Liverpool he had already played professionally in 3 other teams so if we go by that then he should wait and Ronaldo one of the best coaches of all time to groom him in Sir Alex Ferguson. This kid plays in a great team surrounded by great players I'd say it's best for him to wait and continue to grow a transfer right now would delay his development simply because when a team pays 30 million euros or dollars the expectation is higher and is now about him stepping up to a role he might not be ready for.

  10. Quarterback TD, December 8, 2016 at 11:48 a.m.

    you will always get very weak to rebuilding teams in every league. No player will survive playing only solid teams it's not like the NFL where one play 16 games and you rest for 8 months.. The kid needs a transfer now so he can lock in some cash for his uncertain future where hopefully he does not get injured.. when he completes boot camp with EPL he will become the Messi America has been looking for..

  11. Wooden Ships replied, December 8, 2016 at 4:58 p.m.

    QB TD, its hard to get past your handle, please change it.

  12. Darvin Loredo, December 8, 2016 at 2:23 p.m.

    Hope he doesn't go chasing the money or he will end up like Sterling. He's seeing a lot of play time and has the unique opportunity to become a super star.

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