Liverpool’s reported interest in American forward Clint Dempsey this week has been met with much derision by certain “Liverpool supporters”.
Some have argued that, at the age of 29 he is too old. Others have complained he simply “isn’t good enough”.
Up until recently it looked like Dempsey was set to join Arsenal this summer. Forgive me, but if he is good enough for Arsenal – a team in the Champions League – then he is good enough for a team who want to be in the Champions League.
Certain sections of Liverpool fans need a huge reality check; a team not in the Champions League will not attract ‘Champions League quality’ players. For instance, Juan Mata last summer went to Chelsea, and we got Stewart Downing.
Back to Dempsey though, a player who had his best season last year and has just turned 29. To me, that would be a player in his prime. A player who is hungry to achieve and play in the Champions League. Wait, I see some similarities there between his ambitions and Liverpool’s ambitions.
By the way, Dempsey turned pro at age 21, hence his later development and hence why he has plenty of years ahead of him yet.
The fact he has one year left on his contract at Fulham and has made it clear he wants to progress his career means the fee involved will be less than £10m. Nearer seven or eight according to reports. Seems to be good value to me.
Add in the fact that Dempsey is clearly America’s best player at present and the market value of having him at Liverpool would be huge. We’re talking about sports mad America, where ‘soccer’ is the most played youth sport in the country, where soccer is a hugely popular and growing market. A market which our owners are experts in – note Tom Werner‘s media links in sport and the new documentary series with FOX Soccer. It’s easy to see the appeal.
Unveiling Dempsey in time for the American tour, featuring the signing on the documentary series would be a masterstroke. Huge PR. American news channels would report how their best player was signing for Liverpool. Leading to huge viewing figures when the docu series is released in September. To an audience that largely hasn’t quite established it’s favourite team yet but then watches their countries’ best player sign for Liverpool. Just a little bit of marketing on that.
I would never want us to sign a player for the PR and market factor alone. But when a player is available who can improve the playing squad and with the added bonus of the above, it’s an absolute no brainer.
Going back to the age factor. The current squad has a lot of upcoming, hugely talented younger players (Suarez, Henderson, Lucas et al.) plus a few ageing star players (Gerrard notably). What we don’t have is so many players in their “prime” – only Agger and Skrtel are really in this category, perhaps Reina and Johnson too. I’d welcome a player who can come in and improve the squad immediately.
The less intelligent “fan” among the wonder that is Twitter proclaimed that Dempsey isn’t good enough (he actually used a less positive term) but I can’t recall any Liverpool player who scored 20 goals and assisted six more last season?
It remains to be seen whether we will sign Dempsey but clearly there is interest and that interest is with reason.