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Fulham have accepted a £7million bid from Aston Villa for Clint Dempsey – increasing the pressure on Liverpool to raise the stakes in their pursuit of the United States international.

Dempsey has been linked with Liverpool for most of the summer and has been left out of the Cottagers’ opening games of the season since declaring his intention to leave.

Sunderland are also keen on the 29-year-old but Anfield looked the most likely destination with Dempsey keen on a move to Merseyside.

Aston Villa boss Paul Lambert has now shaken things up as he looks for reinforcements to take some of the burden off striker Darren Bent.

The deal was agreed on Thursday night and is cash only – with no add ons and no other players involved.

Reds boss Brendan Rodgers remains keen on Dempsey and will have to make his move with the transfer window closing at 11pm tonight (Friday).

Fulham reported Liverpool to the Premier League last week claiming Dempsey had been tapped up and Craven Cottage boss Martin Jol criticised the player for not keeping quiet about his wish to move on.

Fulham’s complaint was placed before the August meeting of the Premier League board and Liverpool have been asked for their observations.

The board will decide whether to take the complaint further. It could eventually go before an independent panel, who could impose fines or even suspended point sanctions on the Merseyside club.

Liverpool, however, are more likely to face a four-figure fine if Fulham’s complaint is upheld. The matter would be dropped if the clubs agree a fee for Dempsey, who was Fulham’s top scorer last season.