United States international Clint Dempsey has refused to play for Fulham again and is seeking a transfer to a Champions League team, the Premier League club’s coach Martin Jol says.
Dempsey was linked to Liverpool last month after Reds coach Brendan Rodgers admitted during a pre-season tour of the US and Canada that the Merseyside club had enquired about the player.
However, no deal was forthcoming from Liverpool’s US owners, the Fenway Sports Group, which also owns baseball’s Boston Red Sox.
Asked on Friday if the attacking midfielder would face Norwich in Saturday’s first league match of the season, 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.”
Referring to a hastily withdrawn report from FSG’s website at the start of the pre-season tour, Jol said: “The Fenway Group put on their website that Clint signed for Liverpool. But I can assure everyone there was no firm bid from Liverpool, so I have to say it was quite a problem for us.
“Clint feels he needs a move, that he wants a move and that was probably Liverpool. But Liverpool did their business, bought other players, but no Clint. So we’ve ended up in a situation with Clint here at Fulham but he’s not committed to the club.”
The Dutchman clearly felt that Liverpool was to blame for putting Fulham in a difficult position.
“We’ll have to wait and see what happens but it’s a sad situation for us and it’s almost embarrassing,” Jol said.
The problems follow a superb season for the 29-year-old midfielder, who struck 23 goals in 46 games to becoming Fulham’s top scorer. He joined the west London club in 2007 and is the highest scoring American in the Premier League with 50 goals.
Jol said the standoff with Dempsey had been going on for four weeks and the American seemed unlikely to change his mind. As a result, a transfer looks the only likely option.
“Hopefully there will be an offer for him because our chairman (Mohamed Al Fayed) is quite strong and he told us that although Clint wants to move, and wants to go to a Champions League club, you have to respect our view that we can’t let Clint go on the cheap. And we won’t.
“So if there is no firm offer on the table he has to stay here.”
Dempsey and a club like Liverpool, which is targeting Champions League football again after winning Europe’s top competition for the fifth time in 2005, are in a strong bargaining position. The player only has 12 months left on his Fulham contract.
He has been training away from the rest of the squad after missing Fulham’s pre-season training camp in Switzerland.
A move to Liverpool had seemed on the cards after Rodgers’ comments in Boston during the three-match tour.
“Clint is a player that we have enquired about, it is as simple as that,” Liverpool’s new coach said. “Ian Ayre, our managing director, has spoken with the club just to see what the position is and that is where it is at.
“He is obviously a very talented player but we don’t like to speak about other clubs’ players.”