Is there a more in-form US player in the world at the moment than Dortmund's Christian Pulisic? He could help ease Thomas Tuchel's concerns about the possible departure of some of BVB's stars, writes Stefan Bienkowski
When Christian Pulisic scored Borussia Dortmund's second goal against Stuttgart on Saturday afternoon he became the youngest-ever player to reach two league goals in Bundesliga history, at 17 years, seven months and five days.
Four starts have seen Pulisic go toe-to-toe with the best Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke, Hamburg and now Stuttgart could offer and clearly suggest that he's ready to play regularly at this level. Two goals from four games may not stand too tall alongside Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Henrikh Mkhitaryan's contributions this season but it offers plenty of hope for the next campaign.
There is often added attention paid to American players when they break into Germany' top division - or even before they have done so, as was the case with Bayern Munich's Julian Green. However, there is legitimate reason for Dortmund fans to start getting excited about Pulisic, particularly in light of recent transfer rumors surrounding key players at the club.
Destined to depart Dortmund?
Recently we've seen Pulisic's partner in crime on Saturday, Mkhitaryan, linked with moves to the English Premier League as speculation grows over whether or not he, among others, will extend his current contract beyond June 2017.
Similarly, we've seen Marco Reus and Aubameyang linked - to the frustration of the Westfalenstadion faithful - with moves to Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid. Even if such rumors are nothing more than speculative whispers to excite social media, the past has shown that when a player reaches a certain level at Dortmund he tends to move on.
Reus, Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang may stay put this summer but there's every chance that both Ilkay Gündogan and Mats Hummels will go. Both have done little to suggest they're staying put and could force the club to sell them before their contracts expire in 2017. Either way, a turbulent summer awaits coach Thomas Tuchel and his staff this summer.
It is this troubling situation that makes Pulisic's recent development so important to how Dortmund approach the summer and plan their strategy for the next campaign. Should a player full of promise continue his rise then he'd be the first attacking talent to break through from the club's academy since Mario Götze, and would ease Tuchel's concerns about his squad's depth.
Against the backdrop of constant fear mongering over further Dortmund departures, both sporting director Michael Zorc and Tuchel have reiterated how strong the team will be in seasons to come. Pulisic has quickly become an embodiment of that belief.
Even though he may offer little more than a feel-good story for Dortmund fans right now, and even though he hasn’t yet proved that he can replace stars that may one day depart, Pulisic offers perhaps a peek into how Dortmund's future could still look as exciting as their present.