Clint Dempsey: Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Big Transfer This Summer

Kyle Diller@kdiller6Contributor IIIApril 12, 2012

BOLTON, ENGLAND - APRIL 07:  Clint Dempsey of Fulham celebrates after scoring his first goal from a free kick during the Barclays Premier League match between Bolton Wanderers and Fulham at Reebok Stadium on April 7, 2012 in Bolton, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Clint Dempsey has been attracting attention this season with his standout performances for Fulham, with many now believing he is destined for a move to a bigger club in the summer.

While Dempsey certainly deserves all the praise he's earned this season, a move to a bigger club could have a damaging effect not only on his career, but also on the United States men's national team.

Various media outlets have linked Dempsey with a summer move to Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. With 16 goals this campaign, he is currently tied for fourth on the Premier League scoring charts. That sort of season was always bound to attract some attention.

Dempsey is undoubtedly a fantastic player, perhaps the best the United States has ever produced, but can he establish himself as a key player with some of the biggest clubs in the world?

He may fit in well with Tottenham or Arsenal. Both clubs are at the top of the Premier League, but still in need of improvement to be serious contenders in the title race next season.

Arsenal in particular may be a good fit given the continued uncertainty surrounding Robin van Persie's future with the club. Even if van Perise does stay, they need another goalscoring option as they remain too reliant on the Dutchman's goals.

Tottenham also presents a good possibility. Should the club fail to secure Emmanuel Adebayor on a permanent deal from Manchester City, they may well be in the hunt for a new goalscoring threat.

With 22 goals in all competitions, Dempsey could be just what the two north London clubs are looking for. Given that he would likely get better service from the players at Arsenal and Tottenham than he does at Fulham, that number could be even higher.

GENOA, ITALY - FEBRUARY 29:  Clint Dempsey of USA celebrates scoring the winning goal during the international friendly match between Italy and USA at Luigi Ferraris Stadium on February 29, 2012 in Genoa, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

While Arsenal and Tottenham may be good fits for Dempsey, Manchester United presents a much different challenge, one that may prove too difficult. Given he is primarily used as a winger or striker, Dempsey's competition at United would consist of Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez, Antonio Valencia, Ashley Young and Nani.

Can Dempsey realistically establish himself in the first team when competing against those players? He could likely contribute as a squad player, similar to the role that Park Ji-Sung currently occupies, but his minutes on the pitch would be significantly limited in comparison to what he receives now.

That is the scenario that should concern supporters. Should Dempsey move to a bigger club and not be regularly involved, it could have a negative impact not only on Dempsey's rising status, but the national team as well.

Simply put, it is not acceptable for the national team's top player to not be playing consistently, and that would not be a guarantee for Dempsey at Old Trafford, no matter how talented he may be. His chances of playing time at Arsenal and Tottenham are likely more promising, but it still could prove limited at either club if Dempsey struggles with the transition.

While there are certainly options for Dempsey to make the step up to a club in the Champions League, it is important to remember the game is filled with stories of players who thrived at a mid-table club, only to struggle upon making them step up.

Perhaps Dempsey is best at his best as the big fish in a small pond; when he is the star man and the team centers around him, which is certainly the case at Fulham. Even for the US, Dempsey is the focal point alongside Landon Donovan. At any of the three aforementioned clubs he would be another player in a sea of world-class talent, which may be a scenario that he is not as suited for.

Should Dempsey move to one of those clubs and fail to establish himself as a first team regular, not only is he wasting the peak years of his career, but the effects could also be damaging on the national team if their star performer is not playing consistently.

However, there are certainly pros to Dempsey making the step up to one of the elite clubs this summer as well.

A move to one of the world's most prestigious clubs and involvement in the Champions League would arguably be beneficial to elevating the profile of the game in the United States. If Dempsey were to find success with one of England's top clubs, the effect on soccer in the United States could be unprecedented.

Should such a transfer prove successful, his game could also be elevated by not only playing with some of the world's top players, but also playing against some of the world's top players. Being involved in the Champions League would force Dempsey to take his game to the next level to compete on the biggest stage. That could only be beneficial to the United States.

There are certainly many variables to consider, and that is something Dempsey will inevitably have to consider this summer. Offers will come in and there will be a big decision to make.

As much as America wants to see its star player make it to the next step and perhaps play in the prestigious Champions League, it could backfire and harm the national team as well if Dempsey doesn't get enough games. It may also prove a defining moment for soccer in the United States should Dempsey establish himself as a regular with one of the world's premier clubs.

May we all hope it proves to be the latter.


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