LIVERPOOL made their first signing under Brendan Rodgers with the arrival of striker Fabio Borini, and it’s only a matter of time when the new boss brings in further additions to the squad over the next few weeks or so.
What would the Craven Cottage favourite bring to Liverpool, and how would he affect the team?
Rodgers wants to instil a passing, patient approach to Liverpool, with ball retention key to the team’s play. Whilst in possession, constant movement, interchanging of positions and possession recycling will be the Reds’ key techniques in trying to work their way through opposition defences. Two of Dempsey’s core skills would be particularly important in this instance; his first touch, and his ability to find space between defenders.
Dempsey has been spearheading the Fulham attack for the past two seasons. With goals and assists through the last two years in the league, Dempsey will add goals and good offensive attributes to Liverpool’s attack.
Under Kenny Dalglish, long periods of possession without anything to show for it showed just how toothless this Liverpool attack was last season.
Brendan Rodgers has been quick to try to address this issue by bringing in Fabio Borini. The next name on his list is probably Clint Dempsey, who again will add a bit of flair to a Liverpool side that has not seen much of it for a few seasons now.
Some might argue that Dempsey might just turn out to be the next Charlie Adam, however I believe Dempsey will be a huge hit at Anfield and here are the reasons why.
Creative And Good For “Tiki-Taka”
With a good first touch and control, Dempsey always makes himself available to receive frequent passes from his teammates in tight spaces without fear of losing the ball. His movement infield from the flanks will aid him in finding areas to receive the ball between central defenders and full-backs, and between central defenders and central midfielders. He is perfect for the Tiki-taka as he likes the play to keep moving with short passes even in tight areas.
Not only that, but when picking the ball up short isn’t an option, Dempsey has the vision, creativity and intelligence to pick a run behind the defence, offering a path to goal for his team.
A New Working Class Hero
Dempsey is a tireless runner like the hugely popular Dirk Kuyt, who joined Fenerbahce a few weeks ago. He will provide the attributes of Kuyt along with being better in a few departments, like finishing and speed. Kuyt wasn’t the best at crossing and Dempsey has an upper hand here.
Rodgers has stressed that his team will need to work hard if results are to go their way. He wants his team to press high up the pitch, and there can be no better person to sign to implement that other than Dempsey at the moment.
Versatility is another important asset that the American international has. Dempsey has the ability to play all the way across the attacking third of the pitch; he would likely play most of his football for Liverpool on the left hand side of three forwards in a 4-3-3 (or of the three behind a central striker in a 4-2-3-1).
Despite this, he is more than able to play either behind a central striker, on the right flank or as the centre forward himself, albeit operating in a more withdrawn and creative role rather than always hanging on the shoulder of the last defender.
With Maxi gone, Dempsey would give Liverpool tactical flexibility and a depth in at least three positions that they might not otherwise have.
Off the ball, Liverpool will be looking to work hard from the front, press the opposition swiftly and win the ball back in a timely fashion. Dempsey’s excellent attitude and apparent fearless nature means he would fit in just fine with this approach, never failing to harass a defender and deny them time on the ball.
Goals From Midfield
Liverpool badly missed a goalscoring midfielder last season. Injuries to Steven Gerrard and poor performances throughout the season from Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson, saw goals from the second line of attack in short supply for the Reds.
Jonjo Shelvey and Maxi Rodriguez pitched in few goals, but in general, the lamentable number of strikes from midfield is definitely an area for improvement for the Reds, with Lucas Leiva and Jay Spearing not striking at all from their deeper position.
Arguably the most direct and natural replacement for Maxi that Liverpool might find, Dempsey can provide goals in terms of both scoring and assisting from an advanced position. He scored 23 times last season for Fulham and, while that was a personal best and therefore is unlikely to be repeated, he is clearly clinical and confident in front of goal.
Market Value, Age And Wages
Dempsey wouldn’t be on an extraordinary wage; perhaps something around £40-£50,000 per week might not be too far wide of the mark. A far cry from the £80,000 being paid out to Dirk Kuyt and Maxi Rodriguez, or the £90,000 still being paid to Joe Cole each week.
The Cottagers have slapped a price tag of £10 million on the 29 year old, however with just a year left in his contact and his clear intentions of leaving might help Liverpool in softening the deal. And a bid of around £7-£8 million should do the job for the Reds, which would be a great deal as Dempsey is playing best football of his life and still has at least 3-4 good seasons.
Wages and positions aside, the only real question that Brendan Rodgers need ask of any potential transfer targets at this stage is: can the player improve the squad?
At this point, the answer has to be yes. Liverpool are looking lightweight in the final third, with Andy Carroll and Craig Bellamy rumoured to be on their way out. If they do leave, then it would leave Liverpool with only Luis Suarez, Downing, Cole, Aquilani and a handful of youngsters as options to play alongside new boy Fabio Borini. Dempsey would not only fill a gap in the squad, but provide competition for places and a skill set optimized for the type of play Rodgers is trying to implement at Anfield.
Clint Dempsey wouldn’t bring wonders for Liverpool. He wouldn’t be the difference maker in their pursuit of the Champions League challenge, but he would certainly be a step up from what the Reds have available at the moment.
Dempsey has just completed the best season of his career, and would be ready for a challenge with a bigger club with loftier ambitions than Fulham can provide. If the deal is financially viable for Liverpool, they could do a lot worse in this window than to make Dempsey one of Brendan Rodgers’ next signings.
Thanks for reading. Opinions and suggestions are always welcomed. You can also find me on Twitter @LEONGUI7E