If Clint Dempsey Leaves Fulham, Who Should Replace Him?

There is much speculation about which team may acquire American Clint Dempsey from Fulham at the end of this season.  Arsenal is one of the latest teams rumored to be interested in him.  Dempsey is in high demand after scoring a career-high 17 goals this season – more than any other American in Premier League history.  He is currently ranked number 18 in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index among all Premier League players (13th among the league’s midfielders).  He has played more minutes this season than any other player in the Index top 30 except goalkeepers Joe Hart and Tim Krul.  Dempsey also placed fourth in last month’s voting for the Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year Award.  Not bad for a soccer player from Nacogdoches, Texas.

Like many American soccer fans, I am proud of Dempsey and his accomplishments in the Premier League.  I understand his desire to play in the Champions League before his career is over and I see why he would want to take advantage of a bigger club should the opportunity arise.  At the same time, the idea of him leaving Fulham after he’s become such a fixture at the club is a bit disappointing.  I like knowing every time I catch a Fulham match Dempsey will be there, putting in another gritty 90-minute shift.  I’m not sure he would get nearly as much playing time at a club like Arsenal as he does so consistently for Fulham.  At the same time, his ambition to win a trophy is understandable.  He has certainly paid his dues in the Premier League.

Along with a lot of other American soccer fans, I’ve developed an affection for Fulham over the past several years because of the American players who have played for the club like Brian McBride, Carlos Bocanegra, and Clint Dempsey.  So what if another club offers Fulham a deal for Dempsey that is too good to pass up?  How can Fulham keep this American connection going?  There is actually another Texan with a lot of potential as a Dempsey replacement at Fulham. His name is Brek Shea.

Shea is a tall midfielder with a skill set and competitiveness similar to Dempsey’s.  At only 22-years-old, he’s already in his fifth season with FC Dallas.  Last season he was nominated for the MLS MVP award and was named to the MLS Best XI.  Shea has also earned ten caps with the U.S. Men’s National Team, most of those coming within the last year.  This past January Shea was invited to spend a month training with Arsenal.  Although Arsene Wenger downplayed the invitation, it was still a great opportunity for Shea and an acknowledgement of his potential.

Shea is a Dempsey-style go-getter who would make a great acquisition for Fulham.  He’s young, still affordable, and could immediately help fill the gap if Dempsey leaves.  Shea would fit in well with Fulham’s aggressive, counter-attacking style.  He would be a speedy complement to Kerim Frei, another young Fulham midfielder who’s made a splash this year.  As an FC Dallas fan, I would hate to see Shea go, but the experience he could gain playing consistently at Fulham could do for Shea what it has for Dempsey – develop him into a world-class player.

15 thoughts on “If Clint Dempsey Leaves Fulham, Who Should Replace Him?”

  1. Shea needs to get out of Dallas. Poor guy is about our only quality player but I am afraid if he doesnt get to Europe soon then his growth will be stunted. I am sure USMNT would be thrilled for him to go overseas.

  2. I hope Dempsey stays with Fulham.He could be a club legend. if he goes to a CL side he will just be another player.

    1. I agree. I would worry that he wouldn’t see nearly the same amount of playing time. He might become just a situational starter or sub. However, if he wants to chase the dream, he should.

  3. He should stay at Fulham because Martin Jol will do wonders for his game, Fulham could realistically be battling for a top 6 spot when Jol adds a few players he likes. Plus the kind of football fulham will play will be very enjoyable for him.

    The only club’s I can see going for him are Villa, Everton and Spurs (coz harry loves an aging bargain)

    I see no reason Fulham can’t win a cup next year and get into Europa, if they miss the top 6 and the fair play spot. Stay put have a legacy!

  4. Would like to see Edu move to Fulham. It would get him out of that horrible situation and into a mid-table EPL team.

  5. As a Fulham supporter (an American who has supported Fulham prior to any American playing for them), while I like Brek Shea a lot, not real sure he would work well in Martin Jol’s system. Now someone mentioned Edu. Maurice would be a great replacement for an aging Danny Murphy and unlike Shea, I do think Edu would excel under Jol.

  6. One important thing to mention about Clint Dempsey is wherever he goes (hopefully to a big Premier League club), expect the club to sell a ton of replica shirts with Dempsey’s name on the back.

    I can see it now… Dempsey wearing an Arsenal jersey.

    The Gaffer

  7. Good call on Edu, Duck and Jason. I agree.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Clint leave England for an opportunity in Italy or Germany, if it were with a CL club.

    Everyone always assumes he’ll be just a squad player with a bigger club … until he proves them wrong. He’s often been underestimated.

    1. Not sure Clint would be willing to rip his family out of England or even London. If you’ve seen his interviews, he’s very attached.

  8. I think that Jol has already answered this question with being close to signing Luciano Narsingh and Oussama Assaidi.

  9. I agree. Brek Shea in the long run would make a great fit at a mid level EPL team like Fulham. Can’t wait to find out what happens. My first preference would be for Clint to stay. However, I’m not getting my hopes up.

  10. Dempsey playing for Arsenal, a top 4 club (hopefully top 3) would be awesome! Arsenal would pick up many more fans in the USA. And who knows, perhaps one day skip their Asia tours and do a tour in America instead. But, well this is an article on who replaces Dempsey… not a Dempsey going to Arsenal.

  11. I would be thrilled to see him in a Spurs shirt. Not only would it generate more fans, but I think he would be great for rotation with Rafa between Europe and league matches. If we could get Dempsey, Vertonghen, and Leandro over the summer (either keeping Ade or finding another replacement) I would be through the roof!

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