COMMENTARY | Perhaps Tottenham Hotspur are just fine with their presence in the United States, after all.
The Times reported on Thursday morning local time that Spurs have put United States Men's National Team starter Clint Dempsey on the market. Dempsey, who scored 12 goals across all competitions for Spurs last season, turned 30-years old this past March. His agent claimed at the end of May that Tottenham and Dempsey were happy with one another, but all that may have changed after Spurs acquired Brazilian midfielder Paulinho at the start of July. Dempsey has been linked with a return to Fulham, possibly on a loan deal (he still has two years left on his Spurs contract), and also with a move to Sunderland. Fellow American Jozy Altidore signed for Paolo Di Canio's side earlier this week.
That Tottenham are looking to free up some cash in order to fund both the Paulinho move and also a potential deal for wantaway Aston Villa striker Christian Benteke is no surprise. The Evening Standard reported on Thursday that Spurs are close to selling Tom Huddlestone, ironically to Sunderland, for a fee of £5m. There have also been conflicting reports regarding Emmanuel Adebayor moving to Turkish side Besiktas. Villa will reportedly accept no less than £25m for Benteke, and multiple sources have claimed that the club is not at all interested in a player swap.
Dempsey being out of favor at Tottenham makes sense, on paper, assuming that manager Andre Villas-Boas is going to move primarily to a 4-3-3 and also that Gareth Bale is going to remain at White Hart Lane for at least one more season. The US international will, if both of those claims are accurate, likely be relegated to cup and Europa League duties (behind the likes of Bale, Aaron Lennon, Mousa Dembele, Paulinho, and a striker such as Jermain Defoe or the previously mentioned Benteke) at Spurs. With the start of the 2014 World Cup less than a year away, Dempsey will be searching for as much first-team football as possible.
I had been told near the end of June that Spurs were keen on holding onto Dempsey in order to maintain and expand the team's brand in the United States. That discussion came before NBC Sports Network launched a Premier League PR campaign that included a 40-foot poster featuring Bale located in Times Square. In Bale, the unanimous Player of the Year, Spurs have an international star, one who shines brighter than does Dempsey, even in the US.
This could, on the other hand, always be a case of Spurs merely shopping a player to see what, if any, bids arrive. Tottenham have utilized this practice with multiple players in the past several years, including Defoe, Huddlestone, and Michael Dawson. A lack of depth has been just one of the reasons Spurs have missed out on Champions League in the past two seasons. Selling a guy who undeniably has plenty of Premier League football left in him may not be the wisest of decisions.
Multiple sources have claimed that Tottenham Technical Director Franco Baldini desires to complete as much business as possible before the beginning of the 2013-14 Premier League season. This could result in Dempsey not having to wait until transfer deadline day for a deal to become official for the second consecutive year. Dempsey and Altidore have made for quite the pair while on national team duty as of late, and the two playing together for an entire EPL campaign should, in theory, mean only good things for the USMNT.
One thing is for certain: The "silly season" is in full swing.
Zac has been covering the USMNT, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, New York Red Bulls, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
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