Clint Dempsey made his first ever appearance in English football playing against Tottenham Hotspur for Fulham. Now, he can help Spurs retain their status as one of the top four clubs in the Premier League as a player for the club.
In his other life as an aspiring rapper, Dempsey goes by the name of "Deuce"—the reason behind him taking the No.2 squad number at his new club—and his versatility will allow him to mix it up in North London this season, as Spurs aim to keep their place above that dotted line when the final league table for the 2012/13 season is published in May.
After a move to his desired destination of Anfield failed to materialise, Spurs were quick to swoop in on deadline day and sign an effective and experienced attacking player who could be the difference between them qualifying for the Champions League or not.
The Texan's explicit ambition was to join either a club already in the Champions League or to sign for Liverpool, one of the game's greatest clubs which is American-owned and will surely be back among Europe's elite before too long.
Instead, he will likely make his debut on Sunday at Reading for a club which, were it not for Chelsea's sensational triumph in the competition back in May, would be looking forward to Champions League football this season.
Dempsey may have been a last-minute, opportunistic purchase, but his price tag of just £6 million will surely prove to be a snip if he can bring his form at Fulham from West London to his new employers in the north of the city.
Like most US players, Dempsey is fit and highly athletic, and is thus able to handle the rigours of Premier League football. But he is so much more than just a willing runner who rarely gets injured or even tired.
His versatility will allow him to fill several different roles in head coach Andre Villas-Boas's team as required. Dempsey may be predominantly right-footed, but his ability to cut in makes him just as effective in either side of a midfielder quartet or as part of a front three.
While he may not be an out-and-out centre-forward, Dempsey's technique and eye for goal would also make him a decent second striker for Spurs, who are not exactly blessed with depth in that department at the moment. Indeed, his mere presence anywhere on the team will take some of the goal-scoring burden off the shoulders of Emmanuel Adebayor, who is likely to once again be Tottenham's lone striker this term.
Dempsey's arrival also gives Villas-Boas options to switch things tactically on the wings if the usual combination of Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon, which relies so much on pace and dribbling, is combated well by opposition defences. Dempsey would add more balance to a midfield for when the deployment of two such traditional wingers if too risky.
Dempsey's fifth and final full season at Fulham was by far his best. He scored 17 goals and set up another six in the Premier League last term. Those statistics are proof positive that he flourished under the more attacking style of manager Martin Jol after being shackled by the more conservative approaches of predecessors Mark Hughes and Roy Hodgson. He can certainly look forward to working under a boss with a similarly enterprising outlook at his new club.
On the face of it, exchanging Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart for Dempsey and Moussa Dembele certainly looks like a drop in quality, but those respective deals do have their advantages.
Modric is a world class playmaker who will surely thrive at Real Madrid, but whenever injuries or tactics forced him into wider positions the Croatian struggled to adapt. Van der Vaart was another high quality player whose ability demanded that things were set up to revolve around him, but his lack of fitness meant that Spurs would regularly play as much as half an hour of a game after the man who was supposed to be their focal point had been substituted.
Dempsey—and his former Fulham teammate who marked his own Spurs debut before the international break with a goal against Norwich—is more than able to make up for both of those shortcomings.
Tottenham may not have been the club he had his heart set on joining, but at Spurs Dempsey can achieve the Champions League ambitions of both himself and the club.
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