Chelsea Football Club will pay 64 million euros — nearly $73 million — to sign U.S. soccer star Christian Pulisic, bringing the 20-year-old winger to England’s Premier League.
The deal, which pays a transfer fee to his current club, Borussia Dortmund, makes Pulisic the most expensive American soccer player of all time.
Pulisic will play out the rest of the current season with Dortmund, the German club Pulisic joined as a youth player when he was just 16. His contract had been set to expire at the end of the 2019-2020 season. A native of Hershey, Pa., Pulisic plays for the U.S. Men’s National Team and, in 2016, became the youngest USMNT player to score in a World Cup qualifier.
In an effusive letter posted on Twitter, Pulisic thanked the fans, his teammates and coaches. “It feels like only yesterday that I arrived in Dortmund as a raw, excited very nervous but exceptionally proud 16-year old,” he wrote. “I would not be where I am today without the Club and their belief in giving young players a chance.”
Pulisic’s parents are both former footballers: They met playing soccer at George Mason University. His grandfather was born in Croatia, and Pulisic was able to get a Croatian passport, enabling him to play in Europe at 16, rather than 18.
In a statement on the Dortmund website, the club’s sporting director called Chelsea’s five-and-a-half-year, $72.52 million offer “an extremely lucrative bid.”
“It was always Christian’s big dream to play in the Premier League. That certainly has to do with Christian’s American background, and as a result we were unable to extend his contract,” Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said in a statement. “Christian Pulisic is a perfect player in terms of his character.”
“We are delighted to have signed one of Europe’s most sought-after young players,” Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia said in a statement. “Christian has shown his quality during a fantastic spell in Germany and at just 20, we believe he has the potential to become an important Chelsea player for many years to come.”
Dortmund is currently leading the German league, known as the Bundesliga. In April 2016, Pulisic became the youngest non-German to score a goal in the league.
Some observers think there is more to the Chelsea deal than Pulisic’s talents.
As one American soccer fan put it: “Whether he excels or not, this is a masterstroke of business. There are 320 million Americans and most don’t have a favorite BPL Club. Sign the most famous player in the USA and you’ll pick up quite a few.”
On soccer Reddit, fans speculated that NBC, which broadcasts the Premier League in the U.S., was likely thrilled at the news. “They’ll probably have a dedicated camera fixed on Pulisic at all times,” wrote one.
The previous record for highest transfer fee for an American was set in 2017, when the German club Wolfsburg paid 20 million euros for John Brooks. Pulisic will join a handful of other Americans currently in the Premier League, including DeAndre Yedlin, Tim Ream and Danny Williams.
Fox Sports’ David Mosse suggested that Pulisic has at least one thing working in his favor: “Chelsea are bad about developing their academy players and young players that they spent very little money on. But a flashy foreign signing who they spent 64 million euros on will be given every chance to succeed.”