Clint Dempsey: The Most Talismanic Premier League Player This Season
The Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) always seems to pick the wrong players for its Players' Player of the Year award—and by excluding Fulham's Clint Dempsey in 2012, they've done it again.
The shortlist for the top honour this year has the following players: Robin Van Persie (Arsenal), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), David Silva (Manchester City), Scott Parker (Tottenham Hotspur) and Joe Hart (Manchester City).
Straight away it seems that Robin van Persie is the favourite for the award—and rightly so it would seem.
After all, the 28-year-old striker has scored 27 goals and made 12 assists in the Premier League this season—a vastly superior record to any other player in the league.
But in reality, it should be Clint Dempsey up there as the bookies' favourite.
First of all, it almost goes without saying that he should be on the shortlist this year—one look at his figures for the season would tell you that.
The 29-year-old American forward is in the form of his career right now, scoring 16 goals and making five assists this term.
That goalscoring figure isn't as high as that of van Persie, Rooney or Aguero—but we all know it's a brilliant tally because he's scoring those goals for Fulham, a side with much less firepower than United, City or Arsenal.
A team who create—on average—4.6 less chances per game than Manchester United, 4.5 less than Arsenal and 3.2 less than Manchester City—making Dempsey's achievement all the more remarkable.
Should Clint Dempsey At Least Be Nominated?
And not only should the United States international be on the shortlist, he should of course be the red hot favourite for the crown.
For this is a player who has scored 41 percent of all Fulham's Premier League goals this season—take away his goals, and the Cottagers would've dropped seven points this term.
To put that talismanic form in perspective, Sergio Aguero has scored just 25 percent of his team's league goals this season—take away his strikes and City would've dropped five points.
Wayne Rooney has scored 30 percent of United's goals—take his goals away, six points dropped.
Robin Van Persie would appear the most talismanic however—take away his goals and Arsenal would've in theory dropped a staggering 21 points.
But the flying Dutchman has scored less of his side's overall goals—40 percent—and done so for a team that creates at least four to five more goalscoring chances each game.
So in Clint Dempsey, we could be talking about the most talismanic player in the Premier League right now.
And the reason why he's so important to Fulham is because of his fantastic versatility—a trait which again should see him win the PFA Players' Player of the Year.
Because this is a player who has a 100 percent goalscoring record in three different areas of the pitch—five goals in five games as a centre-forward, three goals in three games as a central attacking midfielder and one goal in one game (and an assist) on the right wing.
And in his main position this season—the left wing—Dempsey has effectively contributed a goal every two games, scoring six and assisting four in 20 matches.
No other player in the Premier League has had such success this season in four different positions.
Robin Van Persie has only played as a centre-forward this season, Wayne Rooney the same, and Sergio Aguero has scored the vast majority of his goals as a trequartista, only scoring twice more in the striker's position.
Which again goes to show how adaptable—and more importantly integral—Clint Dempsey has been to Fulham this season.
It's that kind of fundamental form which has seen the American gain tons of plaudits this campaign, and spark rumours of a £10 million transfer to Arsenal.
Yet still he doesn't get the recognition he deserves from the fans, and more significantly the players who vote for their favourite fellow professionals.
Because this is a player who—as has been clear all season—not only deserves to be on the shortlist, but should be winning the award.