GOAL - Dan Sheridan
Chelsea boss Frank Lampard has praised the contribution of Christian Pulisic after the winger finally made his first appearance for the club in their 1-0 friendly defeat to Kawasaki Frontale.
The 20-year-old American joined the Blues from Borussia Dortmund back in January this year for a fee of €64 million ($73 million/£58 million), but was immediately loaned back to the Bundesliga outfit for the remainder of the 2018-19 season.
As such, his Chelsea debut has been on ice since he completed his move to west London, but all that changed on Friday during a pre-season clash with their J-League opponents.
Lampard was quick to commend the Pennsylvanian-born wide-man after he was introduced from the bench in the 65th minute in Yokohama – particularly given the fact he only joined up with his new teammates earlier this week following his involvement with the USA at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
When asked about Pulisic’s performance after his first defeat as Chelsea manager, Lampard said: “Good. He has only been here a couple of days really in terms of training, so I have been really impressed.
‘I was very pleased with the players physically. I discovered a real appetite and attitude to work in the humidity with jetlag for a lot of the players.' 💪#CFCinJapan— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 19, 2019
“He’s comfortable on the ball and I think he should have had a penalty towards the end of the game.
“He wants to try to take people on - the sort of player the fans are going to like - so we have to give him a little bit of time to adapt slightly.
“But the way he has trained, and the way he has come in with his personality looks great, so I am really pleased to have him.”
Despite the end result, which saw Kawasaki Frontale snatch a late victory thanks to former Brazil striker Leandro Damiao, Pulisic himself was pleased to finally get his debut under his belt.
And with Barcelona up next in the J-League World Challenge, his fitness is set to be tested even further over the coming days and weeks.
“I’m really happy to be here with the team, and to get an actual match for the first time feels really good,” he told Chelsea TV. “We wanted to come out with a win, but I’m definitely happy.
“They were very good opponents. As you saw, they tested us for 90 minutes and scored a good goal in the end. It was a tough one, but that’s why we’re training and getting ready for the season.
“We want to try and progress in every game and get more and more match fit, and I think that helped us out today.
“It’s been tough getting into things, but I’m feeling really good. It’s great to work with the coach and all these guys – it has tested me and I’m having a great time so far.
“I grew up watching him (Lampard), so to have him here giving me pointers and helping the team – it’s awesome to have him around. It’s nice to have a guy that we can really relate to.”