Tottenham Hotspur: Should Spurs Have Kept Clint Dempsey?

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Tottenham Hotspur: Should Spurs Have Kept Clint Dempsey?
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images
Clint Dempsey during his penultimate appearance for Tottenham vs. Sunderland earlier this summer.

Clint Dempsey's transfer from Tottenham Hotspur to Seattle Sounders has unsurprisingly had many folks talking, particularly about the ramifications of the move Stateside.

Among the recent articles at Bleacher Report, Nathan McCarter pondered how it might impact the United States national team, while Tim Daniels talked about the level of expectation on Dempsey to perform well immediately in Seattle.

Less discussed has been the other side of the transfer.

Dempsey's Tottenham departure came about as he was effectively surplus to requirements. Watching their 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday, you could see why manager Andre Villas-Boas thought he could do without the American.

Gylfi Sigurdsson was a lively presence in the attacking-midfield role in which Dempsey was most frequently positioned during his Spurs stay. New signings Nacer Chadli and Paulinho played elsewhere, but they both hinted at the offensive attributes that could see them used there.

This specific performance did not take into account a possible future change in formation to 4-3-3 (or even the occasional 4-4-2) that would likely have left Dempsey behind others in the pecking order, nor of course the possibility that Gareth Bale may yet feature again for Spurs.

Brad White/Getty Images
From Spurs to Seattle: Dempsey made the move back to Major League Soccer earlier this summer.

With all due respect to Dempsey, when Bale moved into the role the former had frequented last season, the North London side saw an increase in productivity. That was testament to the excellent vein of form the Welshman struck.

This time around it is the squad's new additions that would have made it even harder for Dempsey to serve much more than bit-part duty.

Villas-Boas clearly intends to incorporate his new midfielders into his side. As noted, the shape the team will take is not yet clear, but given the money spent on Paulinho and Etienne Capoue in particular, it is reasonable to assume their presence would take a certain level of priority.

Places within the Spurs squad were going to be at a premium as a result, and in Dempsey's case, he partly lost out to youth in the attacking midfield. Sigurdsson and Tom Carroll might not possess his experience, but their currently quality coupled with their potential was judged to be more valuable.

On paper there is an argument to be made that Spurs are altogether in better shape now. If things go to plan it should make for a situation where Dempsey is not badly missed.

Tottenham's unfolding summer transfer business made it so that had he stayed, they would likely have used him as a threat from the substitute's bench. It would have undoubtedly been a fine option for Villas-Boas to call upon in search of a goal or someone with the ability to slot into the team without much fuss.

The manager will also have certainly contemplated what he was losing out on with Dempsey leaving.

His 12 goals and seven assists were a healthy return for his efforts last season. Even if the player would not have been in a position to deliver more frequently this year, the timing of Dempsey's contributions will require those who remain to replicate his aptitude for big games.

A winner and an equalizer in two matches with Manchester United last season will live long in the memory. The parts he played in notable meetings with Manchester City, West Ham United and Basel further underlined his reliability.

Ultimately, Villas-Boas understood the 30-year-old would probably prefer to be playing regularly elsewhere, especially with the World Cup following the conclusion of the current campaign.

Dempsey's transfer to Seattle also meant a load off the wage bill in a summer of expensive recruits. Given that the US international had helped raise Spurs' profile across the Atlantic, the £6 million they spent to buy him from Fulham likely worked out to be a smart bit of business.

As with Tom Huddlestone, Jake Livermore and Scott Parker, a case could be made individually for why Dempsey should have been kept.

Football teams move on, however, and that means managers making decisions about what is best for their team.

Villas-Boas and Tottenham must now strive to make sure Dempsey is not someone with whom they will regret parting company.

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