September 1, 2012
After a week of embarrassing himself and the Fulham soccer club, Clint Dempsey has now become the highest-paid soccer player in U.S. history. Dempsey changed London addresses on the final day of the English Premier League transfer window on Aug. 31 when he was sold by Fulham to Tottenham Hotspur, just a few miles down the road.
Dempsey came under a lot of criticism during the previous two weeks when he basically staged a one-man strike against Fulham. He claimed he didn’t want to play for the club anymore even though he still had a year left on his contract. Dempsey was linked with a move to Liverpool during the summer transfer period, but the move failed to materialize. The player then felt it was in his best interests to tell Fulham he wanted to be transferred and wouldn’t play for them.
This was seen as a very unprofessional move by one of America’s best-ever soccer players. Dempsey has built up a fine reputation in England and has become the top-scoring American in Europe over the years. He led Fulham in scoring last season with 23 goals and was seen as a key ingredient in the squad. However, he let personal reasons get in the way of his professionalism by saying he wanted to go to a bigger and better team where he had a chance of actually winning something.
After the move to Liverpool fell through, because the team didn’t actually put in an official bid for him, Dempsey was rumored to be a target of Sunderland. However, Sunderland is another one of the leagues several mediocre squads and it would have been seen as a sideways move if he was transferred there. Going to Tottenham just before the transfer deadline ended was a shock to most fans and perhaps even to Dempsey himself.
The forward was sold by Fulham for a fee of approximately $9.6 million and it’s been reported that he’s signed a three-year contract that will see him paid a total of $22.2 million up until 2015. Dempsey will be joining fellow American Brad Friedel at Tottenham, with the goalkeeper being the previously highest-paid U.S. soccer player at $6.59 a year after joining Spurs last season.
But even though Dempsey ended up getting his own way, he was criticized again at the transfer deadline as Aston Villa bid $11 million for him, which was more than what Tottenham bid. Fulham accepted the offer, but Dempsey said he wouldn’t accept a transfer to the Birmingham-based team. Tottenham made their bid after Dempsey turned down the Aston Villa move and the 29-year-old from Texas jumped at the chance to join them after spending five years with Fulham.
Dempsey said it’s a dream come true to be able to play for Tottenham and manager Andre Villas-Boas. He said he wants to make the most of his chance there and is looking forward to playing with his new teammates. However, Dempsey didn’t play on Sept. 1 when winless Tottenham drew 1-1 at home against Norwich. Spurs have a loss and two ties after three games and were seven points behind league-leading Chelsea after the game.
Dempsey’s behavior during the whole ordeal has been less than exemplary and many soccer fans feel the players have too much power. Unlike North American professional sports, there are very rarely any traded in professional soccer with most players being sold instead. However, the players’ contracts don’t usually go with them and this means they’re able to renegotiate terms when they’re offered a transfer. In addition, they can also refuse a transfer if they don’t like the team they’re going to.
It’s a controversial system since a player can sign a long-term deal and then find out that he can make more money by playing elsewhere. They then try to force a transfer because they know their contract doesn’t go with them and they can renegotiate for higher wages. This is especially a favorite tactic of players, like Dempsey, who are in the last year of their current deals. This is simply because if the team doesn’t sell them, the player can walk away for free at the end of the contract when they become a free agent. The move to Tottenham is seen as a step up for Dempsey as they finished in fourth place last season. However, his dream to play in the European Champions League won’t come true this year as Tottenham will be playing in the Europa League instead.
In most circumstances, the top four teams in the English Premier League earn a spot in the champions League, but no more than four teams from the same country can enter the competition. Since Chelsea finished sixth in the league last year and won the Champions League, they were given the fourth and final spot as reigning champions. This pushed Tottenham down the list into the Europa League, which is basically a grade B version of the Champions League. Dempsey has already played in this competition with Fulham and reached the final before losing to 2-1 to Spanish club Atletico Madrid in 2010.
While Dempsey is bound to make some new fans at Tottenham due to his impressive playing style, he lost a few by forcing Fulham to transfer him. He then lost some for supporters when he turned down the chance to move to Aston Villa. You can bet Villa fans will remind him of this when Tottenham comes to town.