Clint Dempsey: What Would USA Star Bring to Liverpool?

Tony MabertContributor IJuly 23, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 09:  Clint Dempsey of Fulham in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Chelsea at Craven Cottage on April 9, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Liverpool's long-held interest in Fulham attacker Clint Dempsey has hardly been a secret.

Notwithstanding the embarrassing but meaningless gaffe made by Fenway Sports Group-owned network NESN last week, when their website declared the signing of the USA international (as reported by Eurosport), Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has recently confirmed his interest in the player.

The Mirror quote Rodgers as telling Liverpool's official website: "Ian Ayre, our managing director, has spoken with the club to see what the position is. That is where we're at.

"He's a very talented player, but we don't like to talk about other clubs' players."

But what exactly would the Texan forward bring to the party at Liverpool, save for a penchant of hip-hop that threatens to see the release of yet another version of the Anfield Rap?

While the cynic would immediately point to the marketing benefits that club owners Fenway Sports Group would have in getting one of USA's top players into their squad, it goes beyond sheer business sense.

At 29 years of age, they would be getting a player in his peak years, whose physical fitness and relatively injury-free track record suggest that he could at least maintain his current level into his early 30s.

The former New England Revolution player brought with him more than just the athletic excellence and competitive nature that seems to be a hallmark of American imports into the English game, as he is also highly accomplished in the technical side of his game.

He may not be the type of signing to single-handedly turn Liverpool into a force again—they would need several of those—but he would be a decent acquisition for where Liverpool are at right now and what they are trying to do over the next couple of years.

Every season since he arrived in England in 2006 has seen Dempsey's contribution for Fulham improve. 

In his first full season in England, he chalked up six goals and two assists in the Premier League. Last term, after small but steady increases every year, those figures increased to 17 and six. Since the turn of the year, Dempsey has netted 14 goals in all competitions, including two hat-tricks.

But he hasn't just been potent in front of goal—he has also been timely. The man from Nacogdoches has a habit of scoring important goals. Last season, seven of his league goals were the openers in matches, while he also scored a late winner over Liverpool and equalisers in 1-1 draws against local rivals Chelsea, both home and away. In games in which Dempsey started, Fulham had a win percentage of 42 last season. Without him, that dropped to 33 percent.

Another asset which Dempsey possesses that Liverpool would be grateful to have is his versatility. During his time at Craven Cottage, Dempsey has shown himself able to play in the centre of midfield or on the flank—though not as a true winger—or as part of a front two. With winger Stewart Downing struggling after his first season at Anfield and the Reds only having two genuine strikers with plenty of games under their belts, Dempsey's versatility would be very useful for Rodger to have at his disposal.

While Fulham have come out publicly and said they have no intention of selling Dempsey and "would not welcome" any bids (as reported by ESPN), the fact that he only has one year left on his current contract at Craven Cottage may force their hand this summer. Should that happen, Dempsey would be a useful addition to Rodgers' Anfield revival.