Christian Pulisic began the most important season of his young career on Chelsea's bench. He only briefly got off it this past Sunday in a 2-2 draw with Tottenham, and so, with the World Cup three months away and the transfer window still open, rumors of a potential move away from Chelsea picked up.
Newcastle United is reportedly interested in the U.S. star. Juventus, AC Milan and Atletico Madrid have been linked with Pulisic as well.
And now, so too has Manchester United.
Andy Mitten, an experienced journalist who's been covering United for decades, reported Wednesday that the Red Devils are "considering taking" Pulisic on loan. ESPN reported that United has contacted Chelsea about the possibility.
Among the several clubs apparently interested, Mitten reported that Pulisic "would prefer Manchester United."
Pulisic has never publicly expressed a desire to leave Chelsea this summer, but multiple reports have suggested he is increasingly frustrated with sparse playing time and open to a move.
At the start of the summer, speaking at a U.S. men's national team camp, Pulisic hinted at that frustration. "I mean, of course I want to get more playing time," he said. "I want to be on the field as much as I can, and be the absolute sharpest I can be, and fit as well."
A month later, the competition for playing time intensified. Chelsea signed Raheem Sterling from Manchester City. Pulisic's place on manager Thomas Tuchel's depth chart became clear. He fought for a better place throughout preseason, but The Guardian reported last week that Tuchel "does not trust Pulisic." He entered Chelsea's EPL opener against Everton in the 65th minute, and last weekend's home opener vs. Spurs in the 85th minute.
Reports out of England increasingly suggest that Chelsea would be willing to let Pulisic leave — at least on loan. He has two seasons left on his contract. The transfer window closes on Sept. 1.
It's unclear, though, how firm the interest from Man United, Newcastle, Juventus or others really is. Reports of United's interest arrived during a tumultuous week, which began with a crisis-inducing 4-0 loss at Brentford, and continued with chaos in the club's directionless pursuit of new players.
It also remains unclear whether Pulisic would rather join Newcastle, a mid-table club that isn't qualified for European competitions, or stay at Chelsea and try to play his way onto the field — whether in the Premier League, Champions League or League Cup.
USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter, speaking last week in Minneapolis ahead of the MLS All-Star game, was asked whether he was concerned about Pulisic's situation.
"He's a fighter. You're gonna see, he's gonna get on the field," Berhalter said. "I mean, every year, it's, 'He may not be a starter.' Every year, you hear that. And every year, he ends up on the field, because of his contribution. He's a goalscorer. He's a winner.
"What I've seen from him in the last couple years is his mentality has completely shifted, and he embraces stuff like this. He's not scared of challenges like this. And I'm excited to see how he performs this year."