CORRECTION (9/4/12 at 4:30 p.m.): Clint Dempsey will wear the #2 jersey at Tottenham, not the #9 as originally reported by Sky Sports.
Looks like Deuce might need a new nickname. Clint Dempsey has been handed the number 9 jersey at Tottenham Hotspur according to Sky Sports.
Though it may be a bit presumptuous to put much meaning on Dempsey wearing the number often reserved for a club’s star striker, it’s another sign Spurs manager André Villas-Boas plans to give Dempsey a significant role.
Clint Dempsey could only watch from the stands on Saturday — after completing his transfer to Spurs late on Friday — as his new club gave up an 85th minute equalizer in a disappointing draw with Norwich City at Tottenham’s White Hart Lane, dropping Spurs to 0-1-2 on the season. But, Villas-Boas’ post-game quotes should do a lot to appease the fears of those worrying Dempsey will struggle to find playing time in a talented Spurs squad.
While being quizzed after the match about the late collapse of a possible deadline day deal for star Portuguese midfielder João Moutinho, Villas-Boas pointed to Dempsey — rather than several other high profile acquisitions — as the reason why the transfer window was still a success for Tottenham.
“Moutinho’s transfer not happening should not overshadow the fact we have pulled off one of the biggest coups of the transfer market with Clint Dempsey, who is a player who can really help us to go one step further,” Villas-Boas told Soccernet.
Clearly those are not words one would mutter about a player unlikely to be a regular first team contributor.
Tottenham and Villas-Boas certainly recognized the need to boost their thin striker corps in the transfer window. Spurs also made a failed last minute attempt to bring back forward Dimitar Berbatov on deadline day, according to his agent. Berbatov went to Fulham, clearing the way for Dempsey, as one of just three forwards in the Spurs first team squad — the others being Emmanuel Adebayor and Jermain Defoe — to see plenty of time up top.
With attacking midfielder Rafael van der Vaart sent to Hamburger SV in the transfer window, Villas-Boas is likely to switch away from Tottenham’s preferred 4-5-1 formation. A switch to either a 4-4-2 or a true 4-3-3 should provide even more opportunities for Dempsey. Yet even a one striker formation should provide significant minutes. While Adebayor — who last season finished tied for fourth with Dempsey with 17 Premier League goals — is comfortable as a lone striker, Dempsey should be preferred to Defoe, who rarely looks at his best in such a role.
And Villas-Boas wasn’t the only one sharing high expectations for Dempsey over the weekend. One of Spurs other late summer transfer window signings, Moussa Dembélé, a teammate of Dempsey’s at Fulham, was also quick to sing the former New England Revolution player’s praises.
“Clint is always dangerous and if he plays he is so hungry to score,” Dembélé told The Guardian. “He fights and he is fantastic to have because he does the work of two men.”
With Dempsey spending the next couple weeks with the U.S. National Team for World Cup Qualifying, and Tottenham out of action until a Sept. 16 trip to Reading, it may be a while until the Spurs’ new number nine’s regular role becomes clear. Whatever that role may be, expect Dempsey to be a key part of Tottenham’s squad going forward.