By Charlie Melman.
The Texan is having both his best, personal season at Fulham and the best ever for an American player in England: his tally of 16 League goals this year is tied for fourth-best in the Premier League, and he jointly leads his club with five assists.
As anyone who has seen Dempsey play for club or country can attest, he is a truly an exceptional player.
He relishes a good fight, enjoys aerial duels and will never pass up the opportunity to score when he has even the slightest chance.
In short, he is the type of versatile and direct winger that any team could use, and whichever side employs him next season will be much better off for doing so.
Dempsey is aware of his talent and his incredible statistics this season. And he knows that he could finally earn himself a move to a team that can fulfil his dream of playing in the Champions League.
After he declared a moratorium on new contract talks Arsene Wenger is likely took another look at a player that would fit extremely well into his team.
If Dempsey were to move to Arsenal this summer, the Frenchman would have loads of tactical problems, but they would almost all be of the sort that managers love to have.
Where the Gunners would put their potential acquisition is an intriguing question not merely because of the players that Arsenal currently (and likely will) have, but because of Dempsey’s impressive versatility.
An obvious solution, for example, would be for Arsenal to stick with their current 4-3-3 formation and simply stick Dempsey on the left side while keeping the rest of their line-up intact.
However, Arsenal already have a number of extremely good and promising players who flourish in this position, and Wenger is already having some difficulty fitting Gervinho and wunderkind Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain into the same team.
Of course, it is impossible to have too much depth in any position, but—and I hate to say this—I would not want to stunt Oxlade-Chamberlain’s career development by denying him the playing time that he so requires during these crucial formative stages.
Luckily, Dempsey can be used with equal effectiveness in other positions.
In a crowded midfield, the American would provide a very good attacking option in a role very similar to that in which Tomas Rosicky and Aaron Ramsey operate in at the moment. Both his directness and tenacity would be very refreshing in a midfield that sometimes hesitates to take a shot when there is some space available.
But since Jack Wilshere will return to the fold next season and he will be able to take up almost any position in the centre of the pitch that Arsene Wenger asks him to, regular opportunities might be limited for Dempsey in that area.
One of the most unexpected areas in which he could provide a real boost, though, would be at striker, which has been by far Arsenal’s least reinforced position this season.
The Gunners have toyed with fate during every match because, even though Marouane Chamakh and Ju Young Park are physically on the bench, the manager has demonstrated so little faith in the pair that they cannot even get minutes late in comfortable victories.
Especially if Lukas Podolski completes his rumoured move to the Emirates this summer, Arsenal would suddenly be awash with top-class striking talent capable of dismantling any side in England.
Dempsey demonstrated two matches ago for Fulham how brilliant results can be achieved when leading the line by combining his silky technical skill with his constructively pugnacious nature.
Against Bolton, he scored from a free-kick and the type of header that only someone with his confidence, work-rate and positive attitude could have scored. It is that type of energy that Arsenal would greatly benefit from with the American up front and that Robin van Persie would love if the two can play side-by-side.
The beauty of Clint Dempsey really is that he can play just about any attacking position that he is asked to play as well as perform at an “unbelievable” level, as his manager Martin Jol described it.
He has the goal scoring mentality of a poacher, the pace and directness of a winger, and the vision of an attacking midfielder. If Arsenal sign him, he would be able to play just about anywhere at any time.
And that is perhaps the most effective way to use his many talents: with the incredible tactical flexibility that Arsene Wenger would have with Dempsey on the pitch, he could field a side with Lukas Podolski and Robin van Persie that would be able to seamlessly slide into each other’s positions without a hitch, offering the attack a sort of fluidity that it has not had in years.
Plus, the number of different substitutions that would be available to Wenger would be incredible, as any Dempsey substitute could trigger a domino effect and completely alter the structure of the team on the pitch.
So, despite the fact that it might cause some tactical headaches for Arsene Wenger and some players would not be pleased with the amount of rotation in the squad, the ease with which Clint Dempsey could slot into any potential Arsenal team makes him a fantastic buy.
And if that dreaded injury bug hits, which—be honest—it inevitably will, the deck can be reshuffled again in entirely different ways to fit Dempsey into another version of a winning squad.