Clint Dempsey has rejoined Fulham on a two-month loan deal from Seattle Sounders as Rene Meulensteen’s first signing as head coach at Craven Cottage.
The 30 year-old midfielder watched Saturday’s dramatic 4-2 defeat to Manchester City from the Riverside Stand directors’ box and completed his medical last week. The American international’s move has been lauded as ‘a great opportunity’ by his national team coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, as Dempsey bids to maintain match fitness ahead of this summer’s World Cup during the Major League Soccer off-season.
Dempsey needs no introduction to Fulham fans, having scored 60 goals in 225 appearances in his five-and-a-half year spell at Craven Cottage. Having signed from the New England Revolution in January 2007, Dempsey made a habit of scoring crucial goals for the Whites – with his first for the club against Liverpool having them avoid relegation in the 2006-07. The Texan’s most special goal, though, came in the 4-1 second leg Europa League quarter-final against Juventus.
Dempsey left Fulham in acrimonious circumstances last August, joining Tottenham on the final day of the transfer window, with then manager Martin Jol claiming that he had refused to play for the club. Dempsey’s spell at White Hart Lane was brief – and he jumped at the chance to return to the Cottage.
It feels good to be back. This has always felt like my home in Europe – and I’m excited to be back and be a part of this team and play in this league. I wanted to get back to playing at the highest level, get back to top form, getting back and helping the team in the situation where they are not were they want to be in the table.
Clint Dempsey has undergone a medical with Fulham with a view to returning to the club on a two-month loan.
Dempsey spent five years with the Cottagers before joining Tottenham in 2012.
The USA midfielder moved back to America this year to join Seattle Sounders.
He is hoping to join Fulham for January and February as the club battle for Premier League survival.
Manager Rene Meulensteen said: “He’s having a medical over the last couple of days and the next couple of days, so hopefully that will all work out.
“Clint has spent so many years playing in the Premier League.
“We know where his strengths lie whether it is coming in from the left or playing as a deeper striker or a number nine depending on who you are playing against. The most important thing is that he will be a good boost for us.”
The move could go through when the transfer window opens on January 1, with Dempsey returning to the United States for the start of the new MLS season on 8 March.
Dempsey scored 50 goals in 184 league matches for Fulham before moving to Spurs, a decision that did not please many Cottagers fans.
Meulensteen, however, believes the fans will give him a warm welcome.
“I’m sure they will,” he said. “It speaks volumes for him that in his loan opportunity he wants to come back here.”
As has been speculated in the media the past few days, it seems as if Clint Dempsey is returning to Fulham. While out celebrating Christmas/the move, German defender Sascha Riether posted the following picture on Instagram:
captioning it “Welcome back Clint Dempsey” – even adding a filter for good measure.
So it looks like we’ll have the American on our books once again. Responsible for one of the greatest goalscoring feats in recent Fulham history with 23 hit in the 2011/12 season, the loss of Dempsey and Dembele in widely regarded as the beginning of the end of Jol’s reign at Fulham.
What role will he fill though? He’ll only be here until March, when the MLS season will start up again, and playing him would upset the balance of a team which is playing the best that they have done for quite a while, whether it’d be on the left side or behind the striker (he is much more effective on the left, so hopefully there). However, one thing he will definitely add is that predatory touch, an instinct to get in to goalscoring positions – and that spark to create them from nothing too. That’s a touch we’ve been missing, really, since he left, and so I see no harm in the move.
Dempsey has some making up to do too. He left in bitter circumstances, petulance and ego ahoy, before pushing through a deadline day move to Spurs. It’s been pretty much downhill from there, and I wonder if he is another player on a long list to show that the grass isn’t always greener away from Fulham, especially when Tottenham is involved. I wonder if that will play on his mind, and he will be more determined than usual to compensate for his infamous exit.
Either way, if this is to be confirmed, then welcome back Clint Dempsey indeed!
Former Fulham midfielder Clint Dempsey is poised to return to his former club Fulham on a two-month loan from the Seattle Sounders. The USA forward has held productive talks with the west London club and, according to US sources, he is ready to rejoin them when the winter transfer window opens on 1 January.
The Major League Soccer season begins for the Sounders on 8 March and Fulham’s intention would be to keep Dempsey until late February. He stands to help them in their battle against relegation and could be particularly important if Dimitar Berbatov were to get the move from Craven Cottage that he wants in January.
Berbatov, whose contract at the club expires next summer, has become unhappy and the sacking of Martin Jol, the manager who signed him and placed such faith in him, was a further disappointment. There are clubs in Spain, Italy and Turkey that would gladly match or better his £70,000-a-week salary.
Dempsey left Fulham for Tottenham in August of last year under acrimonious circumstances. He had been pursued by Liverpool and he made it plain that he no longer wanted to play for Fulham. Tottenham nipped in to take him for £6m on transfer deadline day and they trebled his wages.
Dempsey had been a crowd favourite at Craven Cottage over five-and-a-half seasons, when he scored 50 goals in the Premier League. His return of 23 in all competitions in 2011-12 was the high point. Dempsey moved from Tottenham to the Sounders for £6m last August, where he has struggled for goals, scoring only once in nine appearances.
Optimism abounds again at Craven Cottage after a battling point – that might have been more – at Stamford Bridge in midweek. A much more assured defensive display than in the deflating defeat by Sunderland or up at Stoke underpinned an excellent Fulham effort and, without Brede Hangeland as the captain completes his three-match suspension, the Whites will need to be similarly disciplined against the Spurs forward line this afternoon. The derby draw actually saw Martin Jol’s side slip to their lowest league position of the season and the point against the not-so-noisy neighbours will count for little if Fulham fail to discover the impressive home form that has been the foundation of their recent success.
It won’t be easy. Tottenham have won the last five league fixtures between the sides – and you have to go back to November 2008 when Heurelho Gomes helpfully threw in a shot from Simon Davies for the last time Fulham took all three points on a day when Harry Redknapp also suffered his first defeat as Spurs’ manager. After a stuttering start under Andre Vilas-Boas there are signs that Tottenham are beginning to play as the Portuguese would prefer. An excellent win over Liverpool in midweek followed Sunday’s victory against West Ham and the six points lifted Spurs to fifth – just a win away from a Champions’ League spot.
Going forward, Vilas-Boas’ boys look frightening. Jermain Defoe is predatory personified and his pace and finishing will worry both Aaron Hughes and Philipe Senderos, neither of whom are the quickest, while out wide Gareth Bale and Aaron Lennon, who combined to tear Fulham apart in the first half of this fixture last season, will pose more problems for a Fulham defence that had been uncharacteristically leaky prior to the midweek trip to Fulham Broadway. There’s plenty of quality in midfield too, with Tom Huddlestone hoping to make his 100th top flight start for Tottenham, and, of course, two former Fulham favourites preparing to return to Craven Cottage for the first time.
The contrast in receptions will prove instructive. Mousa Dembele, frank about his perception of Fulham as a useful Premier League stepping stone when he arrived in August 2010, might even hear his name sung by some Fulham fans, who watched his progression into a dynamic, dribbling central midfielder during the second half of last season, and appreciated the way he continued to perform for the club as the rumours were flying around. There won’t be such a good feeling about Clint Dempsey’s return, despite his five-and-a-half years at the Cottage with all the memorable moments he was part of, after the manner of his exit. The American was foolish enough to admit to feeling underappreciated at Fulham on Thursday – he’ll certainly feel that way after this afternoon.
Dembele and Dempsey’s return might make for good copy, but Fulham can’t afford to be distracted by the hype. Dimitar Berbatov and Martin Jol have reunions of their own to look forward to and special reasons to try and end Fulham’s barren run against Spurs. Tottenham aren’t unbeatable and there’s a growing belief that the side Jol’s building posseses an attacking arsenal to trouble the very best defences, which is not a description you’d ascribe to Tottenham’s at the moment. The absence of Benoit Assou-Ekkoto means Michael Dawson, who endured a wretched afternoon when Fulham cantered to an FA Cup win a year ago, and William Gallas, who will remember enjoying a heated discussion with the Stevenage Road stand after being sent off at the Cottage in our win over Chelsea, will have to cope with Berbatov if the outstanding Jan Vertonghen continues to deputise at full-back.
Jol has a few selection dilemmas to ponder over before he hands in the teamsheet at 2pm. Should the fit-again Kieran Richardson replace Hugo Rodallega, who struggled to make an impression on the left wing on Wednesday, and offer some defensive protection if John Arne Riise continues to raid forward? Is Kerim Frei ready to be included from the start or could Ashkan Dejagah come back in? Giorgis Karagounis was outstanding in the hole behind Berbatov at Chelsea, but Fulham will need a more offensively-minded man for the Bulgarian to link with. Without the injured Bryan Ruiz, should the roll fall to Mladen Petric, who started the season in such a rich vein of form? Perhaps the most important question as we watch another Fulham side develop during a fascinating campaign is whether the Whites can realistically puncture a porous Spurs’ defence whilst remaining assured at the back. It should be a captivating contest.
MY FULHAM XI (4-2-3-1): Schwarzer; Riether, J.A. Riise, Hughes, Senderos; Diarra, Sidwell; Duff, Richardson, Petric; Berbatov. Subs: Etheridge, Kelly, Baird, Karagounis, Dejagah, Frei, Rodallega.