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It was July 13 of last year when AC Milan announced the signing of U.S. men's national team winger Christian Pulisic from Chelsea. Since then, the American international was able to quickly become a crucial starter for the Rossoneri and had one of the best seasons so far in his career, as he scored 15 goals, provided 11 assists and played 50 games in all competitions. Looking at his decision now, one year later, it looks like it was the best one for his growth as a soccer player as he is set to start on Sunday night in the Copa America opener against Bolivia

But 12 months ago it wasn't that certain that it would be the right one. Let's take a closer look at why his move to AC Milan was the best decision he made and how some key figures around this deal influenced Pulisic to join the Italian giants. 


Pulisic came from a challenging situation at Chelsea, where he won a Champions League in 2021 after he joined the English team from Borussia Dortmund, where he attracted the interests of multiple European clubs. Multiple injuries and the uncertain future at the club led both Chelsea and Pulisic to look for options on the market during the summer of 2023. American businessman and AC Milan owner Gerry Cardinale saw in Pulisic the perfect match for a new cycle at AC Milan, that could also grow the brand identity of the Rossoneri in the U.S. market. 

According to the club, based on a student from Men in Blazers and YouGov, "the Rossoneri fanbase in the U.S. has increased by 50% in the last season, with 61% of respondents reporting they are 'somewhat more' or 'much more' interested in the Rossoneri. This increase reflects the significant efforts made by AC Milan in the American market, including commercial initiatives, fan engagement, and effective storytelling that have boosted interest in the club. This growth also highlights the significant impact of American players Pulisic and Yunus Musah. At the same time, U.S. interest in Serie A has increased by 27%, underscoring AC Milan's leadership role in the United States for Italian football."

At the end of the 2022-23 season, AC Milan decided to part ways with club legend and former technical director Paolo Maldini and sporting director Ricky Massara, who led the club to win the title in 2022. A new sporting director, Paolo D'Ottavio, was appointed, while head of scouting Geoffrey Moncada assumed a much more central role in the staff alongside AC Milan CEO Giorgio Furlani. The new structure of AC Milan worked alongside the coach Stefano Pioli, who also had a more central role compared to before. Cardinale decided to give more power to the team, rather than centralize the figure of Maldini as it happened before, even if it worked well.

The main target

In this scenario, Pulisic emerged as the number one candidate for the club as one of the main signings of the 2023 summer transfer window. After some weeks of negotiations between AC Milan, Pulisic' camp and Chelsea, the Italian side signed him for around €22 million from Chelsea. It all started mainly from the work of Moncada and his team, who followed Pulisic over the years and wanted a winger that could play in different positions of the attacking line. In fact, the season before, AC Milan suffered a lot when key player Rafael Leao wasn't available as they didn't have a replacement in the roster. 

Pulisic, who can play on both left and right wings, arrived at the club to provide depth for Leao, considering that AC Milan also signed Samuel Chukwueze from Villarreal in the same transfer session. In the summer of 2023, there were some questions regarding his involvement in the team, since Chukwueze was expected to be the starter on the right attacking wing, and Pulisic could become an option to replace Leao or Chukwueze himself in the rotations of the manager. At least, that was the idea of Pioli 12 months ago. However, Pulisic, thanks to his performances, immediately became the starter on the right side of the attacking line, with Leao on the left and Olivier Giroud as the central striker. Pulisic had a successful first season at AC Milan as he became the second U.S. international with 10 league goals in a season in the top four European leagues after Clint Dempsey did it twice, first in the 2011-12 season (17 goals) and second in the 2010-11 season (12 goals).

We mentioned Chelsea, AC Milan situation, but let's now see why Pulisic decided to join the Italian Serie A. His father, Mark, was definitely a key figure who helped Christian to make the best decision possible, as he is himself a soccer coach, former player and most importantly very close to his son. Pulisic was also convinced by the former AC Milan coach Pioli, who personally called him and had at least one Zoom meeting with the player where he explained his idea of football and how Pulisic could fit in the team he wanted to build last summer. Another topic, apart from the importance of AC Milan worldwide, is that the USMNT star was and still is fascinated by the country he moved to and settled really well despite not speaking the Italian language yet. 

Christian Pulisic career statistics

2023-2024AC Milan362,602128

Moving forward

This summer many things are about to change since Pioli left and a new coach was appointed. Paulo Fonseca will be in charge and he will have to deal with Pulisic as he's one of the most important players of the roster. Former Rossoneri star Zlatan Ibrahimovic is also back at the club as advisor of the owners, and he will be also in charge of dealing with the hot topics of the team. Pulisic, after his first season in Italy, is one of the players that needs to drive this team back to the glory and to the success that was missed in the past season. While one year ago his involvement in the team was one of the questions for the season that was about to start, this summer AC Milan can plan knowing that in 2023 they have signed one of the best players in the Italian Serie A.