Clint Dempsey: Will He Stay or Will He Go?Clint Dempsey has been the unquestionable player of the year for Fulham, scoring 22 goals
Editor’s note: This post is by Austin Beacham, who will be helping me with posts on the site, since I’ve had a hard time posting regularly. I’ll still be running the site and making posts, but he will be helping to add content. Austin’s been reading Fulham’s Finest regularly for over a year now. To give some background, he’s been a fan of Fulham for several years – since he saw them live against Portsmouth in 2007, and has followed them seriously since after the 2010 World Cup. Please welcome Austin and treat his posts like you would mine! -Kyle
It’s time to talk about Fulham’s main man for the past two seasons: Clint Dempsey. He’s been in fantastic form for a long time now, and that’s coincided with inexorable speculation over his future. This summer will basically be the last good chance to get any money out of him, in my opinion. I don’t see many teams that Clint would be interested in moving to being willing to pay proper money for him next January, so if he is going to be sold, rather than leaving for free, it’ll be this summer. In addition, I don’t think with the way this club is run and the way Martin Jol has dealt with transfers so far that he’ll be allowed to leave for nothing in 2013. So, essentially, I think that if he’s to be sold, he’ll be sold this summer.
Clint’s said himself that he won’t make a decision until this summer, so although there is an offer on the table, don’t expect anything to happen until then. To me, that statement from the Texan sounds like he’ll wait to see what offers Fulham receives from other clubs before he signs or doesn’t. And honestly, I don’t think Fulham fans could expect anything else. He’s given everything for the club since he’s been here and has been an incredible asset to the team for a long time now. He’s never hidden the fact that he wants to play in the Champions League, and it doesn’t seem to me that Fulham supporters could have much to complain about for that. The last great thing he could do for the club would be to bring in a hefty transfer fee so that we could adequately replace him. He’ll be difficult to replace directly, but a good chunk of money certainly wouldn’t help.
So, on to what I think. The answer isn’t as clear cut as many seem to think it is. I think his departure, or lack thereof, will completely depend on who comes in for him, and whether the price is right. If a club like Arsenal (as has been rumoured) come in for him, I think he’s gone. He won’t pass up the chance to play for a club at that level, for multiple reasons. I think, first of all, he personally wants to prove himself on that level. He won’t worry too much about initial playing time – he’s had to deal with managers not playing him for much of his time at Fulham, and has proved himself capable every time. He may not get an automatic start at a legitimate Champions League club, but he’ll get enough time to stay satisfied. I also feel that he wants to play in the Champions League to do so as an American. He speaks often of needing to prove himself that little bit more because he’s of his nationality, and I think that shows that his country is on his mind. He, as cheesy as it sounds, wants to do it for the USA.
To follow up on the Arsenal link, I have to disagree with people who say he wouldn’t fit in Wenger’s system out wide. It’s true that Gervinho and Walcott were the first choice at the beginning of the season, which essentially meant pace, trickery, and direct attacks. Clint doesn’t fit that description, but he could play the role that the left winger has been playing lately – that of a wide midfielder, able to drift inside and link up, as well as give Arsenal’s attacking left-back room to operate. Yossi Benayoun, Aaron Ramsey, and Tomas Rosicky (and even Samir Nasri last season) played that role, and I believe Deuce could excel in such a position. Wenger especially uses this tactic in big games in order to keep possession, and once again I think Dempsey could play that role, such as – oddly enough – in the Champions League! It would be out of character for Arsenal’s manager to pay a hefty fee for a 28-year-old, but he showed with Mikel Arteta last summer that he’s willing to splash on quality. That, coupled with Dempsey’s versatility (he could conceivably play either wing, striker, or the CAM role at Arsenal) make this transfer more likely than some seem to think.
Besides Arsenal, which seems to be the main club, there is reported interest from Liverpool, Schalke, Roma, and the Spanish trio of Valenica, Sevilla, and Malaga. Liverpool it seems could be eliminated due to their total lack of Champions League football and, truth be told, they don’t seem to be moving in that direction at all. Roma is an interesting one, due to their American owners, but once again actual Champions League football seems a stretch for a least a couple of seasons for them. The Spanish clubs each have their owns issues with qualification, except perhaps Valencia, but it’d be surprising to see Valencia splash. They’re deep in debt and have been following a transfer policy of buying young and unknown and selling for as much profit as possible, and Dempsey wouldn’t fit that at all. If Malaga qualify they could be a possibility (I bought him on FIFA 12 for them!), but they’d have to work out their strange transfer ban situation first. Sevilla, lastly, don’t look likely to qualify, so I wouldn’t see the point there. So that leaves Schalke, who will more than likely be in the Champions League next year. If one of Raul or Klaas Jan Huntelaar leave, this seems a real possibility, but I don’t know enough about Schalke’s situation to say much more. He could conceivably get time out wide, and they do have another American in Jermaine Jones at the club, so, once again, it seems possible.
So that covers most of the known clubs “in” for the Deuce. While I think Arsenal would be slightly surprising, they are a real possibility. But I think a club like Schalke is the most likely to nab him – a club that has qualified and doesn’t look like getting worse next season. Perhaps PSG? They would be interested in a shirt-seller like Deuce, but one of Nene, Jeremy Menez, or Pastore would need to move for this to be likely. Lille is possible, as he could work as a replacement for the almost-certainly-leaving Eden Hazard on the left wing. In general, clubs like these are those that I see being interested in him. I think there will certainly be offers in the summer, but if the price isn’t right or the club not right, Deuce will stay. He does enjoy Fulham and living in London, so I think the situation will need to be very specific for him to depart.
The last thing I’ll mention is that people saying that he doesn’t have the quality for the Champions League are insane. Fourth top scorer in one of the two best leagues in the world, Fulham’s all time single-season and overall top scorer in the Premier League, a fantastic strike rate for the United States, versatility galore – what more could a club want? He’s not on that very top level, and is a bit of a tweener (number 3 in this article for an explanation), but many many clubs in the Champions League could use his knack for scoring, tenacity, and utility. There does seem to be a bias against Americans in this respect – if he was an Englishmen he’d surely have a suitor from every top club in the league. Same goes a Spaniard or – of course – a Brazilian. While I’d love to see Clint stay at Fulham, as a USA fan I also wouldn’t mind seeing the man in the Champions League – he’s earned it. Whatever happens, he’s earned the admiration of every Fulham supporter and should be respected regardless of the decision he makes.
So that concludes my first post. I hope you enjoyed it, and please feel free to comment with your opinion or general discussion!http://fulhamsfinest.com/2012/04/14/clint-dempsey-will-he-stay-or-will-he-go/?