It was one of those transfers that had seemed preordained. So frequently was Clint Dempsey’s name was linked with Liverpool, for many people it had the appearance of a done deal. Just the formality of a signature on the contract was needed.
But it never happened. Instead, in one of the last deals on deadline day, the American midfielder opted for Tottenham Hotspur.
What had happened? How did Liverpool allow the free-scoring midfielder to slip through their fingers at the last moment?
The 29-year-old American international managed an impressive goal every two games for Fulham last season which surely alerted the bigger clubs to his talents, but to the American football diaspora it was just a case of recognition delayed.
Dale Mulholland was one of an earlier generation of Americans who sought to pursue his career overseas: Part of the generation that spawned players like John Harkes (Sheffield Wednesday), Eric Wynalda (1FC Saarbrucken) and Brent Goulet (Tennis Borussia Berlin).
Before settling in Indonesia, Mulholland had played in the USA, Soviet Union, Czech Republic and Hong Kong, among others.
Now based in Jakarta where he has his own football academy, Super Soccer Skills, Mulholland says the “exceptionally skilled” Dempsey “is the first true footballer to come from the culture of the USA.” Indeed, he goes on to suggest that he is the best player “the United States has produced so far.”
Six seasons with unfashionable Fulham saw him deliver a healthy 60 goals in 225 games. Mulholland feels that a bigger stage was always on the cards. “He is the type of player who can play in any top club, including Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United or Arsenal and immediately make an impact,” he enthused.
It seems ironic that Liverpool’s American owners were less than enthused by their compatriot’s talents. Manager Brendan Rodgers only let his 35 million pound striker Andy Carroll go on loan to West Ham United on the understanding he would be able to replace him.
That hasn’t happened. Now, Rodgers and Liverpool have a paucity of striking options: Luiz Suarez and Fabio Borini. That’s it. On the bench against Arsenal last Sunday was Stewart Downing who had been warned by his manager any future he may have at Anfield could well be at left back.
Rodgers is now forced to look for strikers who are out of contract elsewhere to bolster his paper thin resources, and one name being linked is Michael Owen!
With a poor start to the season, Rodgers will not be underestimating the size of the task facing him as he sets about rebuilding Liverpool. The trauma of Kenny Dalglish’s largesse lives on and continues to haunt the bean counters at Anfield.
For the sake of three million pounds, loose change in today’s football, Liverpool have missed out on a proven goal scorer with the potential of raising their profile in the US.