Pulisic in limbo at Chelsea with World Cup looming, Man United’s De Gea on borrowed time
Christian Pulisic could be heading out of Chelsea to boost his World Cup prospects — ESPN’s Insider Notebook has the latest. PLUS: David de Gea is on borrowed time at Man Utd.
Jump to: Ten Hag’s De Gea concerns | Xavi tells Dest: Time’s up at Barca | Atletico stood firm over Felix | No Cola for PSG stars
Chelsea’s Pulisic set for showdown talks
Christian Pulisic is set to hold talks with the Chelsea hierarchy over his future and will push to leave the club if his prospects of regular first-team football look bleak, sources told ESPN.
The possible arrivals of attacking duo Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Barcelona and Everton’s Anthony Gordon in particular would affect Pulisic, who sources suggest is concerned about playing regularly enough to ensure he heads to the World Cup finals in Qatar with the United States national team in the best possible shape.
This week, Manchester United became the latest club to inquire about the 23-year-old, who has two years remaining on his contract. So far Newcastle United, Juventus and Atletico Madrid are the other clubs to have expressed an interest, with intermediaries believing Chelsea would prefer a permanent departure rather than a loan deal. Chelsea had been initially reluctant to allow Pulisic to join a traditional rival — particularly on loan, as United’s suggestion suggested — but sources indicate the club are willing to listen to offers and to test the market.
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That has left Pulisic in limbo with less than two weeks of the window remaining. The winger featured in both of Chelsea’s Premier League games to date, each time from the bench in two appearances totaling 30 minutes. One source said Pulisic is also frustrated with coach Thomas Tuchel’s handling of the situation, not least that he has played in a variety of different positions including as a False No. 9 and a left wing back.
Pulisic’s role this season appears to be as an impact player, but there are concerns the USMNT international could become marginalized further if Chelsea are successful in bringing in players before the end of the transfer window and his camp are thought to be seeking clarification.
Talks are continuing with Barcelona over a move for Aubameyang, Gordon, Leicester City’s Wesley Fofana and Inter Milan’s Cesare Casadei while a late move for Barca’s Frenkie de Jong has not been ruled out.
Pulisic’s situation may also be affected by departures elsewhere. Callum Hudson-Odoi has been told he can leave on loan while Hakim Ziyech is attracting interest from AC Milan. Chelsea will not allow all three to depart without first strengthening their forward options.
United remain hopeful of a loan agreement can be reached with Pulisic, who is open to the idea of joining another club in England, but further clarity is expected on his future in the coming days. –James Olley
Christian Pulisic is a target for Manchester United. David S Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images
Ten Hag’s De Gea concerns
Erik ten Hag was well aware of David de Gea’s limitations on the ball before the start of the season, but the Manchester United boss decided to stick with him over fears making too many changes in his first summer would cause too much disruption, sources told ESPN .
De Gea has been criticized for his distribution during defeats to Brighton and Brentford and he was culpable for the second goal at the Gtech Community Stadium after playing a dangerous pass into midfield.
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Ten Hag is keen for his teams to build from the back, and he has been questioned by some supporters about his decision to put his faith in De Gea. Sources told ESPN the goalkeeping situation was identified as a problem ahead of the new season, but Ten Hag believed the best option was to stick with the 31-year-old in his first season while other more pressing issues were solved.
United, meanwhile, made a point of only making Dean Henderson available for loan in the summer and did not allow Nottingham Forest to include an obligation to sign clause in his temporary move to the City Ground. Henderson is considered better on the ball than De Gea but he was desperate for regular first team football after making just three appearances last season.
Sources added United are looking to sign another goalkeeper to compete with De Gea before the transfer deadline on Sept. 1, but they expect Henderson, who has already impressed at Forest, to return to Old Trafford at the end of the season and compete for the No. 1 spot. –Rob Dawson
Rob Dawson feels Erik ten Hag hasn’t been given a chance as a manager at Manchester United and explains why he’s a vulnerable target as the club’s manager.
Xavi tells Dest: It’s time to go
United States right-back Sergino Dest has been told by coach Xavi that he should leave Barcelona in search of first-team football, sources told ESPN.
Dest had been told ahead of preseason that he would be used as cover at left-back, but the defender has since been told he can leave due to a change in the side’s intended style of play and the ongoing financial pressure on the club. The LaLiga giants have been struggling to register their new signings, including Jules Kounde, who joined from Sevilla last month, and potentially Marcos Alonso, whose move from Chelsea is at a standstill.
The 21-year-old, who joined Barca from Ajax for €20m in 2020, is a crucial part of the US side that will compete at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, which begins in November, and sources told ESPN he would prefer to remain at the Camp Nou despite the club’s change of heart.
His contract at Barca runs until 2025, but options for a move away look slim. Potential suitors Bayern Munich signed right-back Noussair Mazraoui from Ajax, while Atletico Madrid added Nahuel Molina from Udinese. Manchester United have been linked with a move for Dest but interest from Chelsea, whose transfer business is being led by new American owner Todd Boehly, has also cooled. — Sam Marsden and Moises Llorens
Herculez Gomez says a switch to Man Utd would be even worse for Sergino Dest than staying on the bench at Barcelona.
Athletics stood firm over Felix
Atletico Madrid have told Manchester United and other interested parties they are wasting their time over Joao Felix, sources told ESPN.
It has been suggested that United made a €130 million bid to acquire the forward, but sources said Atletico’s stance continues to be that “the player is non-transferable.” Meanwhile, a source at Manchester United did not confirm a bid for Felix but said the club have monitored the player previously. Felix, 22, is under contract with Atletico until June 2026 and has a €350m release clause.
United are looking to bolster their attack, with Erik ten Hag desperate to sign a forward before the end of the transfer window. Felix is a key player for Atletico coach Diego Simeone, and both the club and their fans are excited about the strong attacking partnership the Portugal international has formed with Alvaro Morata, who returned to Atletico last month after two seasons on loan at Juventus.
Felix set up all three of Atletico’s goals, including two from Morata, in Monday’s 3-0 win at Getafe. Injuries limited Felix to 24 league appearances for Atletico last season, scoring eight goals and setting up four more. There was speculation he wanted to leave the Rojiblancos in the previous transfer window because Simeone’s style of play did not suit his strengths. However, Simeone has praised Felix and believes the player can have a starring role this season.
He said after the win at Getafe: “Joao Felix looks increasingly mature, stronger. He is growing, shows maturity, weight and has more vision than the rest. He is going through a great spell. Hopefully he continues to grow, because he is at the best time of his career.”
Felix, who joined Atletico for a club record €126m fee from Benfica in 2019, recently said he had no intention of leaving Atletico despite growing interest from Premier League clubs in his services.
“A departure from Atletico is not on the table,” he said. “I’m well and focused on Atletico. I’m calm about my future. I’m aware of what I can do and I’m happy with myself.” — Adriana García
Craig Burley feels Marcus Rashford should jump at any opportunity to leave Manchester United for PSG.
Paris Saint-Germain’s new nutritionist has banned Coca Cola from the training ground a few months after the club renewed their sponsorship deal with … Coca Cola.
Previously, the club had one specialist for all age groups, from the academy to the first team. But new sporting director Luis Campos believed Christophe Galtier’s squad needed a full-time dietary specialist focused solely on the first team, and the change was made this summer.
PSG’s new recruit was surprised by how far the club were behind other top teams in Europe in terms of their nutrition, and sugary drinks have been removed, along with a selection of sauces. The players have been told to be at the training ground for breakfast and lunch while individual dietary requirements and programs will also be put in place, sources said.
Coca Cola have been a sponsor at PSG for the past 24 years, and their new agreement with the Ligue 1 side runs through to 2024. — Julien Laurens