So this is what happens when you score 21 goals in a single campaign.
Fresh off an away brace Saturday against Bolton Wanderers, there’s suddenly a media furor swirling around US Soccer star Clint Dempsey’s future.
First, Sky Sports is reporting that Dempsey will wait until the summer to decide his future with Fulham.
Dempsey talking to Sky on Monday:
“We will see what happens,” (Dempsey) said. “It is one of my best memories of being at Fulham, this season, and I have one more to go.
“I am talking with the club but we will have to see what happens in the summer.
“I want to focus on this season and my football and other stuff can take care of itself after the season.
“I work hard every year. If you look at the positions I have played this season – mostly left mid, coming inside – but mostly it is just trying to get in the box and get on the end of things.
“Maybe I have just been more cool, calm and collected and just been able to finish things off.”
The Sky report ran a day after Martin Jol discussed how impressed he was with Dempsey’s play against Bolton and overall this season. But while the Dutch manager was effusive in his praise, he also made some interesting remarks about Dempsey not quite being on the same level as current Liverpool star Luis Suarez was under Jol when the two were at Dutch club Ajax.
Jol talking to the Daily Mail on Sunday:
‘I can’t foresee the future. We want to keep him and hopefully he wants to stay. We have offered him a very good contract.
‘He knows he is very appreciated at our club, so hopefully he will stay.
‘If we want to be a top side we need players who can score more than 20 goals in all competitions.
‘I have always had that – I can remember Luis Suarez scoring 53 goals for me at Ajax.
‘He’s not at that level yet but of course it is a different league and for a wide midfield player who can play up front and score that many goals, it is unbelievable.’
Then to top everything off, on Monday the Guardian made mention of Dempsey in today’s Rumour Mill, saying that Dempsey was being pursued by Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.
This last one is very flimsy as a proper news item, but interest from those clubs seems quite believeable given Dempsey’s all-world form this season. More importantly, I’d see that as taking the temperature in the British press as to Dempsey’s perceived value these days: quite high, indeed.
To the Jol comments, much has been made this morning on Twitter about Jol’s exact motivation behind those words. Some might see it as a slight, while others might see it as Jol trying to drive down the market on Dempsey so he can keep him around Fulham.
My own take is that Jol tends to be a relatively straight shooter, unless someone has fallen out of his favor. For instance, despite all the reports of bad blood between himself and Bobby Zamora, he curiously never once said a bad word about him before selling him off quick as he could to QPR once the transfer window opens. So to me, assuming that he and Dempsey are on good terms — which is a pretty safe assumption — Jol’s words should stand as his honest take on where Dempsey is at this point without too much of an agenda attached. Of amazing form, but not quite at the level of a guy, Suarez, who scored 49 goals in 48 matches in 2009-10 for Ajax, led his country to the World Cup semifinals and the Copa America title by scoring 26 times in 52 matches over his international career, and then was bought by Liverpool for about $36 million.
How Dempsey responds to these words is another matter entirely. It very well might not have been all that smart of Jol to speak in such a manner, even if he didn’t mean anything by it. We’ll see.
To be frank, however, while Dempsey is playing better than Suarez at present, he probably isn’t currently quite at the level Suarez once reached.
But he is inching insanely close, closer than anyone probably thought he’d ever come. And if he happens to get there by the time 2014 rolls around, well, then that’s all that matters, right?