A Barcelona move for Pulisic would make sense for the club, not the player
A Mundo Deportivo report linking Borussia Dortmund and United States teenager Christian Pulisic with Barcelona has drawn plenty of attention but, while the interests of the Liga giants are understandable and in-keeping the club's policy to sign promising young players, the move does not make as much sense for Pulisic himself.
With prices in the transfer market escalating, the Blaugrana made an active decision to pursue players based on potential rather than to go after the game's biggest stars. Of the six players who arrived at Camp Nou, four were 22 and another, Paco Alcacer, turned 23 the day before his transfer was confirmed. Only goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, who is 27, was older.
Still, Andre Gomes could end up costing more than €50 million, while Alcacer is a €30m backup striker, who is yet to score a goal. By contrast, €25m Samuel Umtiti looks like a bargain when compared to the €50m Manchester City spent on John Stones.
Barcelona have recently been linked with Sporting winger Gelson Martins, who impressed against Real Madrid last month. Ariedo Braida, Barcelona's international director of sports, has since confirmed that the club are following the progress of the young Portuguese international.
Braida said that Barcelona have "have reports on various players" and, while they aren't alone in monitoring the progress of up and coming stars, there is evidence they are beginning to focus more on bringing in players who, at first, can provide competition for places before going onto establish themselves in their own right.
Therefore it comes as no surprise that the Spanish champions are casting their eyes over Pulisic. Barcelona were keen on Ousmane Dembele, who eventually joined Dortmund, in the summer and now have turned their attention to the 18-year-old American.
Pulisic's only made his first-team debut for Dortmund in January and has impressed ever since for club and country. But, while playing for a huge German club is noteworthy in itself, it would arguably be the biggest signing in U.S. Soccer history, were he to join Barcelona. Away from the obvious lure and the glamour of the Camp Nou, though, what would be in store were Pulisic to move to Spain at this stage of his career?
He's started six games for Dortmund in the Bundesliga and Champions League already this season. How many would he have played for Barca? Just look at Gomes and Denis Suarez, who both joined in the summer, for the answers. Gomes has started just four games, while Suarez has started three times.
Suarez was a year older than Pulisic is now when he joined Barcelona in 2013, where he initially played for the B team. After one season he moved to Sevilla on loan before joining Villarreal last year. Even though he has returned to Barcelona, he is struggling for minutes and was not in the squad to face Manchester City on Wednesday.
Alen Halilovic is a similar story. He joined Barcelona two years ago at 18 but, after a season with the reserves and a loan spell with Sporting Gijon, he was sold to Hamburg with a buyback clause. Despite his talent, Luis Enrique just couldn't find room in his squad for Halilovic -- let alone minutes.
To progress you need to play, as Dembele pointed out when explaining why he turned down Barcelona, and the same applies to Pulisic.
One day he might be good enough to appear regularly for Barcelona but, at present, there would be too many players ahead of him and the risk would be that his development would stall.
The era of talented teens being given games to develop at Camp Nou seems to have passed -- Sergi Samper and Munir El Haddadi's recent moves to Granada and Valencia are further case studies -- and so, for now, there aren't many better places for Pulisic to be than Dortmund.
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.