TORONTO – As soon as Clint Dempsey’s name came up, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers clammed up.
Asked if there were any developments regarding Liverpool’s publicly acknowledged inquiry into acquiring Dempsey from Fulham during a press conference ahead of Saturday's Herbalife World Football Challenge contest vs. Toronto (4 pm ET, Fox Soccer/Sportsnet), Rodgers took the high road.
“I don’t speak about players of other clubs,” he said. “Obviously, if there are targets, they’re normally associated with another club. I won’t disrespect any club and talk about players.”
Still, Rodgers wasn’t shy about detailing Liverpool’s need for reinforcements, an encouraging sign for those who would like to see Dempsey take the next step in his career with the Reds.
“The squad, in terms of depth, it lacks numbers,” he said, mentioning Tottenham in particular as a club a few years ahead of the Reds in terms of roster development. “That’s the reality of where it’s at.”
And although Dempsey is the only American linked with the Liverpool at present - though no bid for his services has been made according to Fulham - Rodgers said the club isn’t averse to bringing in North American talent.
He said he was familiar with the state of the game in the United States after bringing his youth sides at Chelsea to Dallas Cup and other tournaments, and pointed to the success of recent MLS transplants in the Premier League as proof that plenty of talent exists on this side of the Atlantic.
“Landon Donovan with Everton has done terrific, Tim Ream has just come into Bolton last season and a number of other players. So [MLS has] got real talented footballers,” Rodgers said. “I think each year it’s gotten better and the level has grown.
“There’s no doubt that players from MLS, I’m sure there would be quite a number of them, could play in the Premier League if not in the top end of the Championship, which is one the top leagues in European football.”
And as to whether those players have a chance to one-day play for Liverpool Football Club, Rodgers refused to rule anything out. As always, he emphasized, it comes to down talent.
“We’re certainly not snobs to the Americas and North America in particular,” he said.