THERE are a lot of pros and cons to signing another possible ‘big fish from a small pond’ in Clint Dempsey, but I feel the positives overshadow the negatives if we do go ahead and sign the American as is reported.
The fee being touted by the press is around £10m and I think it is definitely worth the gamble. He can provide us with a wealth of experience following the departures of two of our older players in Maxi Rodriguez and Dirk Kuyt and he also has the ability to score unpredictable goals and can be a nuisance for opposition with his creativity.
Yet it’s only in the last two years of his time at Fulham that he has actually improved on actually finding the back of the net rather than just threatening to, by hitting double digits in the Premier League.
In 2010/11 he hit 12 goals and last season he scored an impressive 17 goals for a Fulham side which finished level with Liverpool on 52 points. He finished the season 4th in the top goal scorer list, behind Robin van Persie, Rooney and Sergio Aguero; an impressive feat for a midfielder in a respectively mid-table team. Dempsey may be 29 but he can also provide competition for places and enhance the team’s depth in quality which we have always lacked in relation to the likes of Chelsea and Man United, and with the team also being in the Europa League this season we will need quality back-up to handle the weekly Thursday-Sunday routine of matches.
A prime example of this ‘big fish in small pond’ is currently at the club in Charlie Adam. He was a big player for Blackpool during their season in the Premier League and was an exciting player with his pinpoint set-pieces and lethal penalties helping him to end the season on 12 goals (10 from penalties). Yet he has only showed flashes of brilliance in his first season at Liverpool. But does this mean that we should tar Dempsey with the same metaphorical cautious brush just because Adam didn’t perform in his first season at Liverpool to the standards of his previous season with Blackpool?
I don’t think so. In fact, Adam got off on the right foot early on into his Liverpool career by scoring against Bolton and generally exciting the fans with some wizardry on the ball with some of the excellent passes that we saw at Blackpool regularly. Then it seemed once Lucas got injured, he seriously tailed off towards the end of the season. This was probably as a result of Lucas allowing Adam the license to get forward and not worry about his defensive abilities, something which he must seriously improve upon, as at the minute, his skill in this area is woeful.
Looking at the statistics, Adam conceded the most fouls out of any of our players last season in the league with a staggering total of 58, a stat which most fans would have guessed at as we’ve seen him too often steamrollering opponents to the deck outside the box or fouling when a defender is trapped near the corner flag. Such actions allow the opposition to have a shot at goal or regroup possession and cannot be afforded by a top club. Only Luis Suarez and Martin Skrtel get anywhere near that with totals of 44 and 42.
I think Dempsey is a completely different type of player to Adam though. For starters, Dempsey is much more versatile in being able to play in any of the midfield or attacking positions and perform to a good standard. He, like Adam, created six assists for Fulham last season; and with a much more potent strike force at Liverpool he could very easily achieve more assists. The biggest and probably most significant difference between the two though, is that Dempsey likes to keep it simple. He has the killer ball in his locker but he doesn’t attempt it nearly as often as Charlie Adam does during a game, therein retaining possession for the team something which Rodgers’ philosophy is built upon.
Dempsey also, for me, is much more of a sure bet in terms of consistency. Adam could be said to be like our old excellent midfielder Luis Garcia, by this I mean he can have moments where he can be amazingly elaborate and it pay off ending with an intricate assist or a goal or he can be amazingly elaborate only for it to frustrate and infuriate.
The only negatives I could think of if the Dempsey deal went ahead is that maybe £10m is maybe a bit excessive for a 29-year-old. Also, you could say that his arrival could hamper the progression of the likes of Jonjo Shelvey if he is deployed in a central position. Apart from that though I’d say on the whole his signing would be welcomed by the majority of Liverpool fans.
Most importantly, I think he would slot into Brendan’s 4-3-3 system nicely. With the exciting acquisition of Fabio Borini who will seemingly take the central forward role and Luis Suarez ready-made for the left sided slot, could the right-sided vacancy have Dempsey’s name on it? As I’ve said he has all the necessary attributes: he is comfortable with both feet and has the creativity, work-rate, versatility, passing ability and ease in possession; all these things aided by a wealth of experience ticks most of the boxes needed to satisfy Rodgers’ system and with the possible departure of Andy Carroll, we’re going to need a bit more firepower heading in the exciting first season of Brendan Rodgers’ reign.
All statistics taken from: http://www.liverpoolfc.com/team/first-team/statistics
You can find me on Twitter here: @m1cklfc
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