Clint Dempsey rolled the dice in his quest to play champions league football…and even though he got the move he craved it may still be a bad bet.
The American, with his 30th birthday fast approaching returned to London’s Fulham from the summer break apparently talking openly of overtures made by Premier League opponent Liverpool. So confident was Dempsey of the move to Liverpool that he in refused to play in preseason games as well as the opening two league games. At the press conference before the starting league game, Fulham manager Martin Jol said: “Clint is not involved. … Clint told us that he wanted to leave and that he wasn’t ready to play for this club anymore.”
Fulham filed a complaint with the English FA, accusing Liverpool’s management of illegally tampering with their star player (Dempsey was the club’s top scorer the last two seasons, and voted the by the fans as the Player of the Year), but come the dawn of the final day of the transfer period, Liverpool had yet to officially table a bid for Dempsey.
Instead, it was lowly Aston Villa, already lodged at the bottom of the league and early favorites to be be relegated who put their money on the table. Once again Clint rolled the dice, refusing to discuss terms with the Birmingham club even though Fulham had accepted an $11 million dollar offer. With time running out Liverpool finally made their play. Owned by the US sports company Fenway Group (also owners the Boston Red Sox) the offer was so low it was received with indignation by the London club. The $4.5 million offer was flatly rejected.
With two hours left in the transfer window up stepped London neighbors Tottenham Hotspur with an offer of $9.6 million. Ninety minutes later Dempsey was a Spurs player, one of the last transfers conducted before the window slammed shut. Dempsey had his move, but not to a club in this season’s Champion League. Dempsey is hoping Spurs can finish in the top four and clinch a European spot in 2013. If so, Spurs will have to overcome an inauspicious start, getting only two points form their first three games.
“To play under this head coach and play for this club is a dream come true. I want to make the most of it,” Dempsey said on Tottenham’s Twitter feed. “There are a lot of great players here, I’m looking forward to training and playing with them.”
“A lot was said and written ahead of me leaving Fulham,” Dempsey said. “It wasn’t how it was portrayed, but that’s in the past now and we move on. I want to thank the fans for everything, some of the best memories I’ve had in football, and thank the chairman for giving me the opportunity to come from the MLS and compete over here.”
But even if his gamble does not pan out, Dempsey will be well rewarded for his move. His new contract guarantees the US National Team player $22.2 million over three years, the highest salary ever paid to an American in the Premeir League, surpassing that of US goalkeeper Brad Friedel, also at Spurs. Friedel has earned $6.59 million per season since he joined Tottenham last year.
Yesterday’s transfer window deadline day featured a couple of other USA players. National Team captain Carlos Bocanegra escaped the nightmare of playing fourth tier soccer in Scotland when he secured a loan from his Glasgow club to Racing Santander in Spain. Gasgow Rangers had been stripped of their Scottish Premier League position and demoted to the fourth tier because of financial irregularities and bankruptcy. Racing currently plays in the Spanish second division following their relegation at the end of the 2011-12 season.
Bocanegra team-mate at Rangers, Maurice Edu clinched a move to Premeir League Stoke City.