Well, Clint Dempsey certainly took the scenic route to White Hart Lane.
This long and winding transfer road took months, leading supporters and media on a wandering path, up to Liverpool, over to Sunderland, back into the midlands – all while entertaining the possibility that he could dash across the channel to explore other lands. (Italy? Germany? … Freakin’ Portugal? Who knows?)
In the end, the man they call Deuce may not even have to switch out flats. West London to White Hart Lane won’t be easy in London’s famously congested traffic, but he could probably pull it off.
While we all breath into a paper bag – you know, the old prescription for hyperventilating, the result of this fast-paced Transfer Tango – we should take a few minutes to review the bigger picture of how we got here along the Dempsey Odyssey 2K12.
Someone really should put that on a t-shirt or something.
May, 2011: Dempsey finishes with 12 goals and is voted Fulham’s Player of the Year. Atta’ boy, Clint!
December 5, 2011: American fans swell with pride as Dempsey’s goal is the difference in a 1-0 win over Liverpool at Craven Cottage. It’s not just a win over the storied men of Anfield; the goal pushes Dempsey past fellow Fulham legend Brian McBride as the most prolific American goal scorer in Premier League history.
January 7, 2012: Deuce drops three on Charlton Athletic in an FA Cup contest. It’s becoming apparent that this is no ordinary time. Specialness is brewing around Craven Cottage; they can smell it all the way over at Stamford Bridge, prevailing winds being what they are and all.
Feb. 29, 2012: Dempsey scores the lone U.S. goal in a huge 1-0 win over Italy, the showpiece of Jurgen Klinsmann’s time in charge (at that moment, anyway). So, the Dempsey magic clearly isn’t contained in that Fulham shirt. It’s also becoming apparent he has replaced Landon Donovan as the most important U.S. attacker.
Early April, 2012: It’s Clint Dempsey’s world and … well, you know the rest. Fulham boss Martin Jol tells the world he’s desperate to re-sign the Yankee striker. Dempsey tells the world he “hearts” Champions League and wants him some of that. Sides are digging in … harder than we thought, apparently.
April, 2012: Arsenal is hot for teacher. Well, for Dempsey, that is. At the time, we believe Dempsey might be partnering Robin van Persie at the Emirates. At the time, we were dead wrong, of course. (There was a lot more “wrong” to come.) Oh, current valuation at the time, according to the London publications: £10million (around $16 million.)
May 6, 2012: Dempsey scores 50th Premiership goal in a win over Sunderland. (Sunderland… ironic, eh?) There is really no significance in the transfer goings-on. But we love mileposts, right? And besides, 50 goals!
June 12, 2012: Dempsey’s 27th goal in the national shirt is huge. No, really. Huge! It was the only U.S. goal in a 1-1 draw at Guatemala in a World Cup qualifier. Who would possibly have guessed at the time this would be Dempsey’s final competitive match until September?
July 2012: Whoopsie! NESN reports that Clint Dempsey has completed his move to Liverpool. Hip, hip, hoora … What? He’s not really a Red? Well … what happened? NESN is owned by Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s American owners. Fulham responds officially with this statement: “We have received no offers from any club for Clint Dempsey. We would discourage any club from making a bid for him.” Oh! This one stinks like last week’s fish – for all kinds of reasons.
Early August: Fulham back to training, but all is definitely not well. Soon enough the team is off for a training spell in Switzerland; Dempsey is left behind. “So, he’s going to Liverpool, right?” Who knows?
August 17: It’s a mess. Fussin’ and fightin’ and different versions of the same story are flying like bass chasing spinnerbaits in the warm summer waters of East Texas. Liverpool made an offer. Or didn’t. An agreement was forged. Or wasn’t. Then Dempsey, silent to this point, speaks. Kind of. He issues that Tweet. And then another one. (That’s Dempsey behind the fish. We heard he named that fish “Martin.”)
August 18: Fulham, sans Dempsey, kicks the fish and the chips out of Norwich City, 5-0. Fans chant “Are you watching, Clint Dempsey?”
August 19: Martin Jol, showing the soft Dutch side nobody knew he had, defends Deuce and extends an olive branch. Says Dempsey didn’t exactly refuse to play. Just kinda-sorta refused to play. Is Jol just playing politics? Maybe. Either way, it didn’t take.
August 20: “Sunderland? What the …I mean, where did this … Sunderland? Say it ain’t so, Deuce! Say it ain’t so!”
August 21: People are actually asking for the Daily Dempsey on ProSoccerTalk when it doesn’t drop quickly enough. Folks cannot get enough of this stuff, I tell ya.
August 24: Fulham officials file an official complaint to Premiership officials over Liverpool FC’s alleged meddling with a player under contract. Through all this, Dempsey does, of course, still have a year remaining on his deal at Fulham. But details, details.
August 22-26: Liverpool this, Martin Jol that, Sunderland this, stay at Fulham that.
3:40 p.m. ET, August 27: At the 11th hour, proving that it’s all poppycock until the transfer deadline rubber hits the scared club road, we see this headline: “Tottenham join three-horse race.” An hour or so later, it’s over.
After a day more stocking stuffed with drama than a junior high dance, Dempsey signed up for London rival Tottenham. The reported sale price is £6 million ($9.5 million).
We’ll see you here in a year. Maybe. I mean, you know how players tend to pull in and out of Tottenham.