Clint Dempsey: With Transfer Saga Complete, Deuce Ready to Chase Dream
The Deuce has his Spurs, and after five years toiling in England, the Texan is one step closer to the dream. The truth? That will just have to wait.
The truth, in popular parlance, usually sets one free. But for Clint Dempsey, for this particular situation, that might not ring true. With his move across London from Fulham to Tottenham Hotspur complete, Dempsey already has his freedom, and at this point, saying anything more would only stir up the settling pot.
A little background: Dempsey enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2011-12, scoring a career-high 17 goals in the English Premier League. He found the net 23 times in all competitions for Fulham and after the season, he angled for a move to a new club.
The angling earned him a rebuke from the establishment press (via The Independent). Never mind the fact that just that sort of thing goes on all the time, in leagues across the world.
A word war erupted, pitting Dempsey against his (now former) boss, Fulham manager Martin Jol. Jol blasted Dempsey, claiming Dempsey had refused to play and calling the American an "embarrassment" (via Daily Telegraph).
Dempsey responded via Twitter in a two-part tweet:
There are two sides to the story.— Clint Dempsey (@clint_dempsey) August 17, 2012
The truth will come out soon.— Clint Dempsey (@clint_dempsey) August 17, 2012
For the most part, "the truth" remains packed away in cold storage. Dempsey's only post-transfer words on the subject have been vague and packed with praise for Fulham and the club's fans.
From ESPN FC:
"There were some things that were said that weren't true," Dempsey said. "That's in the past now. It's about looking toward the future and like I said, I'm looking forward to playing with Tottenham. It's a great team, a great club. I want to thank the fans of Fulham. It's been 5½ great years. Some of my best memories in football have been there. I want to thank the chairman for taking a chance on me from MLS and I wish them well in the future."
The statement was hardly hard-hitting, but it did serve a purpose. With the statement out of the way, the 29-year-old American attacker is now free to move on.
Sure, next time he returns to Craven Cottage, he'll likely be treated as a craven and a traitor. And for the next year or so, every media mention will probably also mention Fulham and Dempsey's war of words with Jol.
But so what?
Fulham still seem irate about the saga, but most of the rage appears aimed at Liverpool, the club formerly seen as Dempsey's most likely destination this summer (via BBC Sport). Dempsey's reputation, meanwhile, has suffered no more or less than that of Robin van Persie, who engineered a move away from Arsenal to rivals Manchester United.
With RvP, the move reportedly had everything to do with winning trophies. With Dempsey, it's slightly different.
For some time, Dempsey has spoken of his desire to play in the UEFA Champions League. Spurs finished fourth last season, thus qualifying for the Champions League. But when Chelsea—who finished sixth in the English Premier League—won the Champions League final in May, Tottenham's spot was awarded to Chelsea instead.
That means Dempsey's dream of Champions League football remains only a dream for now. But with Tottenham, he's significantly closer to realizing it than he was at Fulham. What's more, Dempsey is reportedly now the best-paid American player ever (via Yahoo! Sports).
That's as it should be. Dempsey has been the most recognizable American player for some time, and he's probably the best American field player in the game, with possible exceptions for Michael Bradley and Landon Donovan.
Fulham deserve credit for taking a chance on Dempsey five years ago, and Dempsey owes the club some gratitude. With that said, the West London club had taken Dempsey as far as possible, and with Dempsey's peak-performance window closing quickly, the Cottagers simply could not afford him.
Dempsey knew it, and it's possible he gracelessly let Fulham know all about it. Or maybe "the truth" was that Fulham had made promises to Dempsey and then reneged on them. We don't know. All we have for now is speculation.
But with the saga finally complete, Dempsey actually appears to have emerged largely unscathed. He wisely stayed quiet at the right time and more recently said just enough to avoid extensive personal damage. In the process, he got the move he wanted and the money he deserved.
Now, though, he'll do best to let his game do the talking. In that area, Dempsey should have no problem bringing the truth.
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