Spurs announce Clint Dempsey move
Clint Dempsey is returning to Major League Soccer after seven seasons in the English Premier League.
Tottenham Hotspur announced Saturday they have reached a deal to send Dempsey to the MLS. Tottenham did not specify which MLS club Dempsey would join, but sources told ESPNFC on Friday that he is finalizing a deal with the Seattle Sounders.
"We have reached agreement with Major League Soccer for the transfer of Clint Dempsey," Tottenham's statement said. "We wish Clint every success for the future."
Sounders GM and minority owner Adrian Hanauer declined to comment Friday, as did two other high-ranking Sounders employees reached Thursday evening. One said he didn't want to jeopardize his job by confirming that a move was imminent.
"But let's put it this way: I'm not surprised I'm receiving a call," that employee said.
The Sounders hinted at Dempsey's unveiling by telling fans on Twitter to get to Saturday night's game against FC Dallas early for a "special presentation."
The Sounders will pay Spurs an MLS-record $9 million transfer fee to acquire the 30-year-old forward/midfielder’s rights, according to an NBC Sports report. Dempsey's reported base salary of $32 million over four years would also be the largest sum in MLS history.
Dempsey will attend Seattle's match against FC Dallas on Saturday night and is expected to be formally presented Monday, SI.com reported Friday night.
Seattle announced Thursday afternoon that it had signed veteran midfielder Shalrie Joseph to a new contract, a move that opened up a designated player spot by restructuring Joseph's existing deal. That gave the Sounders the flexibility to add another high-earning star to complement current designated players Obafemi Martins and Mauro Rosales. MLS limits its clubs to a maximum of three DPs each.
Fox Soccer analyst Keith Costigan reported Thursday on Twitter that Seattle was interested in Dempsey.
The move is shocking on several fronts. For one, the 2014 World Cup is less than a year away, and Dempsey has consistently spoken of his desire to play at the highest level possible. He's also been noncommittal in the past about potentially returning to MLS, where he played with the New England Revolution from 2004-06 before being sold to Fulham in January of 2007.
But the Sounders have proven to be among the league's most ambitious clubs, and they are also one of the wealthiest, thanks in part to the MLS-high 40,000-plus fans who attend each home game.
Dempsey moved from Fulham to Spurs a year ago for a fee of $9.6 million, and scored seven Premier League goals in 29 games in 2012-13, including two in two matches against eventual champion Manchester United. He added five more goals in other competitions.
A move to Seattle will reunite Dempsey with fellow American forward Eddie Johnson, with whom Dempsey played at Fulham from 2008-2011.
"I'm good friends with Eddie Johnson, and he always tells me what it's like playing here, playing in front of the fans, just how it's an atmosphere that's comparable to what it is in Europe," Dempsey said after the United States' win over Panama at CenturyLink Field on June 11.
"It's great to see that the game is building and that there are markets like this where people have passion for the game. I almost felt like I was in another country the other day when the Seattle Sounders game was on."
Dempsey has made 99 appearances for the U.S., which he represented at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups. His 35 international strikes rank second on the Americans' all-time scoring chart.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.