After my excitement levels climaxed over the release of the new Avengers film my thoughts turned to another Captain American who is currently ripping up the Premier League at the moment – Fulham’s very own Clint Dempsey. There has been speculation surrounding Dempsey’s Fulham future after his performances this season have lead to him being linked with some of the Premier League’s top sides. Add in to the mix that he is about to enter the final year of his contract and it seems likely his future may lie away from south west London.
Fulham signed Dempsey as 24-year-old from the MLS for a fee of $4m and fans have warmed to him as his performances have improved each year. He is currently the longest serving squad member at the club as well as the top scorer. Fulham currently sit in the top half of the Premier League and you wonder how much this is down to Dempsey’s form this season.
The beauty of the talented Mr. Dempsey is that he has many strings to his bow; he can play as a winger, attacking midfielder or a striker and seems to be as equally effective in all positions. Despite the fact his natural position is in midfield, he has been Fulham’s top scorer the last two seasons. He has set a club record this season with 16 goals in 34 league games beating Louis Saha’s previous mark.
With Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United all reportedly looking at Dempsey, it is time for ‘bigger’ clubs to make there mind up whether Dempsey at 29-years-old is worth spending money on as he isn’t getting any younger. So we thought it best to have a look at his stats and how he compares to the Premier League’s best to determine whether Dempsey is ready to make the step up to a top six side.
The United States international increasingly looks the part as a big-club player; with 22 goals in 41 appearances in all competitions this season he is putting strikers such as Andy Carroll and Fernando Torres to shame with a goal-to-game ratio of 0.53, effectively a goal every other game. Clint Dempsey is the only natural midfielder in the top 10 goal scorers in the Premier League, Lampard and Bale are the only other two midfielders in the top 20. In the whole of the Premier League Dempsey has the fourth highest amount of shot’s per game, so no wonder he is scoring a lot of goals. Dempsey is also in the top 20 Premier League players when it comes to assists with 6 this season, which is an improvement on his 3 Premier League assists last season. Impressive.
But not all of Dempsey’s stats are as good – despite him playing 29 times as a midfielder this season, he pales in insignificance when you compare his passing stats to the league’s top midfielders. His pass completion rate is the 108th best in the Premier League at 82.2% – that’s below teammate Danny Murphy and way off the likes of Lampard, Modric and David Silva. He has improved from last season where he made only 74.4% of passes. Dempsey has an average of 1.4 key passes a game (a pass that creates a chance), again which is a long way below the leagues best and also teammate Danny Murphy. He has played 24 times this season in wide positions, but only has only made a total of 6 crosses all season which is a quiet surprising statistic.
Dempsey’s versatility is an appealing attribute, but it seems if he wasn’t giving a team goals, he would be giving very little if deployed as a creative midfielder. One of the main problems with Dempsey is where to play him. Aside from goals his output as a midfielder is very poor. His passing is not bad, but a long way off the best. He doesn’t like to cross and his key passes are low – historically he has never been good in these areas.
Where will Dempsey give maximum output? For me it is as a second striker or as a wide forward in a system where the forward players come inside rather than go to the byline. This season he has ventured forward from the left, come inside and been difficult to pick up which has allowed him to find space for his goals. In terms of what teams he would fit in to, you could say Spurs, Chelsea, Liverpool, Everton, maybe Arsenal but will he any of these clubs come in for him? I can’t see it as he is at his peak, 29-years-old and not better than what they have.
There is no doubt Clint Dempsey is a quality international who knows the Premier League well, he is having a great season if you look at his headline stats. Dempsey is a good player, but there are better potential players out there, like Junior Hoilett for example, that will attract the so-called bigger sides. If Dempsey is not going to trade Fulham for a top six club either here or abroad then why move? For me Dempsey will sign a new deal at Fulham in the summer where he can remain the clubs Captain America for a few more seasons to come.