Christian Pulisic plays with a more direct style than Eden Hazard but has plenty to do to match the Belgium superstar’s exploits at Chelsea, according to Frank Lampard.
United States international Pulisic has enjoyed a rich vein of form since the Premier League resumed, scoring in wins over Aston Villa and Manchester City and dazzling once again during the 3-0 victory against Watford on Saturday.
The 21-year-old’s quicksilver showings in a wide attacking role have invited comparisons with Hazard, who moved to Real Madrid last year after seven decorated seasons at Stamford Bridge.
Lampard is keen to avoid frequently measuring Pulisic against Hazard and highlighted some of the differences between the two box-office performers at his pre-match news conference for Tuesday’s trip to Crystal Palace.
“Having played with Eden and seen him come to the club at a relatively young age, similar to Christian, we saw the development of him,” said Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer, who played alongside a young Hazard in 2012-13 and 2013-14.
“He had a special talent straight away of being able to receive a ball and have great balance and go past players so well. He would draw a lot of players towards him to open up space for others.
“He was pretty unselfish in how he would make assists.”
Those scheming qualities were never greater than when they propelled Hazard to the PFA and Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year awards in 2014-15, although Lampard feels Pulisic is a player who more immediately brings fans to the edge of their seats.
“I think Christian is possibly more direct in his style sometimes, in terms of how he goes past players and runs off the ball, which I like,” he said.
“Eden would come and get the ball and take it past players a lot. With Christian, sometimes I think he has the ability to break the line and run forward, which is a really great trait in the modern game.”
Pulisic’s 20 appearances in his debut Premier League campaign have yielded seven goals and two assists – numbers that hint as much at potential as they do present-day star status, something Lampard acknowledges Hazard earned time and again.
“In terms of the comparison, which is why I stayed away from it a bit the other night, Eden has been here and done it and did it to an incredible level,” he added.
“Christian has it in his hands to make a real impact over a long period of time.
“The thing I’m so happy with now is when we’re playing teams and the games are tough and you’re finding it hard to break teams down, he’s taking responsibility to change that, to change it in moments by using his ability to turn quickly and go past people.
“It’s been great to see and, as I keep saying, there’s a lot of development to come for Christian. I’m very happy with him.”