Clint Dempsey has reportedly told Fulham that he doesn’t want to play for them any more. That is the claim being made by Fulham manager Martin Jol, who today confirmed that Dempsey will play no part in Fulham’s season opener against Norwich. Fulham have responded by fining him two weeks wages.
Dempsey has been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool this summer, with Arsenal and West Ham also having been heavily linked with him. Dempsey is coming off an excellent last season, where he cemented his reputation as one of the Premier League’s best attacking midfielders after scoring 23 goals in all competitions. Dempsey made the decision that he wanted to move to a bigger club.
Dempsey hasn’t been involved with Fulham’s pre-season and has been training separately to the rest of the squad as he was trying to engineer a move away from the club, with Dempsey allegedly telling his teammates that a move to Liverpool was imminent. At 29, this summer probably represented Dempsey’s last chance at getting a move to a bigger club, and getting a large contract in the process.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers admitted that Liverpool were interested in Dempsey earlier this summer, and in fact, an over-eager staffer at NESN put up a story (which was hastily removed) on their website saying that a deal had been done and Dempsey was a Liverpool player a few weeks ago.
What seemingly happened was that Liverpool made an enquiry as to what Fulham would want for Dempsey, then were put off by the price quoted, so didn’t make an offer. It is believed Fulham were looking for £10m for Dempsey, which is his market price, but with him being in the final year of his contract and being 29, it is unlikely that Fulham will receive such an offer from any club.
Martin Jol isn’t happy with what he believes is Liverpool’s part in unsettling his player.
“That was very disappointing,” said Jol. “There was never an offer. Clint himself told everyone he was going to Liverpool so we really thought there was quite a firm interest in him.
“Even Rodgers told everyone he was interested in Clint Dempsey, but our people never had an offer on the table. If you have shown interest in a player, especially in England, you have to follow it up with an offer. They didn’t.”
Jol’s wrong there. There is a big difference between making an enquiry and making an offer. Any club can make an enquiry about any player. It is then up to both parties what happens next. Fulham responded to Liverpool’s enquiry by quoting a figure. Liverpool thought that figure was too high and decided not to follow up on their interest. That’s not an unusual or unreasonable stance for Liverpool to take, just because Fulham quote a price doesn't mean Liverpool are duty-bound to pay it.
Jol followed that statement up by saying that he doesn’t believe that Dempsey has a future at Fulham any longer. “Clint was not involved over the last four weeks so he is not going to be in the squad. He is not committed to the club. He wants to leave. I would like to keep him, but I think it’s impossible. It’s a sad and an almost embarrassing situation.”
“Maybe Liverpool will come back... I can assure you our chairman is strong enough. At first we didn’t want to get rid of him, later on we had to change our position. But our view is that we won’t let Dempsey go on the cheap.”
Dempsey is currently in football limbo. Fulham are sticking to their position, Liverpool are sticking to theirs, and unless either party changes their position, or another club makes an acceptable offer for him, Dempsey will be forced to eat humble pie and apologise to Jol and Fulham and resume playing again, or face sitting out at least half a season until the next transfer window.
Dempsey isn’t the only Fulham player causing Martin Jol headaches at present. Jol has admitted that he spoke to the agent of Moussa Dembele to basically tell him to stop making the interests of other teams in Dembele public, after Real Madrid’s interest in Dembele was revealed by his agent to a Dutch newspaper.
Also, Jol is increasingly concerned about the future of Brede Hangeland. Hangeland has been the key player in Fulhams’ defense since arriving at the club, and has developed into one of the Premier League’s best players at that position, is also in the final year of his contract and has not signed the new contract offered to him by Fulham.