Clint Dempsey is close to a return to Fulham on loan, according to a report in the Guardian on Sunday. Dempsey would move to his former club January and stay for two months before returning to the Seattle Sounders ahead of the start of the 2014 MLS season.
Dempsey played at Fulham from 2007-2012, scoring 50 goals and was a key contributor when the club reached the Europa League final in 2010. It ended on sour terms for Dempsey, as he forced a move to Tottenham in the summer of 2012, which tripled his salary. His time at White Hart Lane was short-lived and he moved to back to MLS and signed with the Seattle Sounders in July, becoming the league’s highest-paid player in the process.
From the Guardian:
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.
U.S. National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann has encouraged many, if not all, of his MLS-based national team players to try to play on-loan during the league’s winter break.
Dempsey is among the most high-profile names mentioned. Whatever ill feelings he had when he moved away from Fulham appear to have been forgotten. More realistically, Fulham could use Dempsey — or anyone — at this point. The club sits in 19th place out of 20 teams, but only one point from moving out of the relegation zone. Fulham only has 15 goals in 16 games, so Dempsey should get ample playing time especially if the club moves Dimitar Berbatov in January.
If this loan move is completed, expect Fulham fans to welcome him back with open arms. He knows the Premier League and helped Fulham stave off relegation with a famous goal against Liverpool during his first season at the club. Two months back in the Premier League isn’t going to transform Dempsey into a different player, or realistically increase the U.S.’s chances of advancing out of its group the World Cup, but so long as he doesn’t get hurt there doesn’t seem to be much downside.
From a USMNT standpoint, it’ll be interesting to see if the likes of Landon Donovan, Graham Zusi, Omar Gonzalez, etc. follow Dempsey across the Atlantic to stay sharp ahead of the World Cup in June, again, if you buy the idea a little time on loan in January and February makes a difference.