Frank Lampard has insisted he never doubted Christian Pulisic’s ability to thrive in the Premier League.
Lampard has moved to set the record straight after claims from Salzburg manager Jesse Marsch that the Chelsea boss had been unconvinced by Pulisic on taking the Stamford Bridge helm.
Pulisic netted twice for Chelsea in a pre-season friendly against Salzburg in the summer of 2019, after which Marsch claimed Lampard revealed reservations about the USA forward.
Marsch claimed Lampard said of Pulisic “he’s got a lot to learn so we’ll see how he does” and that the Chelsea boss has had to revise his opinion of the ex-Borussia Dortmund star.
But Lampard rejected those claims and moved to explain the situation – in a bid to reassure the 22-year-old Pulisic he always knew the full extent of his talents.
“I did read the comments, I was surprised that Jesse had managed to read my mind as well as he thought he did,” said Lampard.
“He’s recounted the conversation wrongly, so I have to put it right. Because it was a game against Salzburg where we played them and Christian scored two goals in pre-season.
“Afterwards, fair enough, Jesse came up to me and said what a talented player Christian was, which I knew and I agreed with.
“And I spoke about the fact that it was so exciting to see how he could develop for us with the talent that he has.
“That was the conversation. Jesse managed to put it across slightly differently.
“Maybe Jesse knows the feeling of American managers and coaches who travel into Europe, so maybe has things that I don’t get.
“But one thing I did get, I played in America for 18 months, and I will never underestimate the desire that American players have, to learn and improve and take on information, and understand the technical side of the game.
“So when you have that, which Christian has, and you have incredible talent, it was never in doubt for me.
“My only thing is I coach in the Premier League and I’ve played in it for nearly 20 years, so I understand the rigours of it.
“And I suppose that probably brings me on to Christian’s development last year.
“It’s clearly the toughest league in the world to come and play at a young age from a different league.
“And it’s not just Christian who would have felt that in his early stages.
“Some of the greatest players in Premier League history, whether they came from America or Europe, or anywhere in the world, have felt that.
“What Christian did was find his feet very quickly and have a breakthrough season in the Premier League where he produced more goals and assists than he had produced previously.
“So I thought his performance last year was massively impressive on his own.
“He will get better and better because he’s a young player. And I never doubted it in the first place.
“And that’s not me jumping on Jesse, because I think there’s probably a bigger issue there with American players. I don’t want to comment on that, he can field that himself.
“But as a manager I never doubted Christian. And it’s important for me to put that straight actually, more for Christian than anything.”