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Aug 25, 2012

Clint Dempsey turns down Aston Villa

Fulham denied reports Friday that the club rejected a Liverpool bid for Clint Dempsey, just hours after the player turned down a move to Aston Villa.

Liverpool -- which has been linked with a move for the U.S. international throughout the summer -- was reported to have tabled its offer after selling Charlie Adam to Stoke City, only to see it turned down by the Londoners.

Villa had a bid, thought to be around 7 million pounds ($11 million), for the forward accepted, but 29-year-old Dempsey is holding out for a move to Anfield. Insiders at both Fulham and Liverpool, however, have told ESPN that no offer has been lodged.

Liverpool has spent much of the summer chasing Dempsey, sparking an angry reaction from Fulham manager Martin Jol after the player went on strike on the eve of the new season.

Fulham complained to the Premier League last month over remarks made about Dempsey by Brendan Rodgers, who told a news conference that Liverpool was interested in signing the forward.

However, Cottagers manager Martin Jol insisted no Liverpool offer had been received at any stage, and Fulham believes Rodgers contravened Premier League rules by publicly revealing his club's interest in the player.

"The Premier League has received a complaint from Fulham FC regarding certain comments made by Liverpool FC officials, and is currently looking into the matter," a Premier League statement said.

The issue was sparked by a story on a website belonging to Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group that implied that Dempsey was to become a Liverpool player.

Although the story was swiftly taken down, Rodgers, speaking during his club's American tour, told a new conference: "Clint is a player we've enquired about -- it is as simple as that. Ian Ayre, our managing director, has spoken with the club to see what the position is.

"That is where we're at. He's a very talented player -- but we don't like to talk about other clubs' players."

Jol recently described the situation as "almost embarrassing" and claimed Dempsey had told people at Fulham that he was going to Liverpool.

Speaking last week, Jol said: "Mentally Clint wants to move -- he doesn't want to stay here. His head was turned, and that was the problem. It's a problem and a situation you don't want. It's not something you can talk to a player about every day because he doesn't want to."

Aston Villa, meanwhile, moved closer to signing Belgium international striker Christian Benteke.

Genk had previously rejected two bids from Villa for Benteke who earlier in the week had revealed it was "his dream" to play in the Barclays Premier League.

Manager Paul Lambert has watched the 21-year-old in action on several occasions and feels he is the right kind of forward to supplement Darren Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor.

Benteke has netted three times in five games this season after being on target 18 times during the 2011-12 campaign in all competitions.

He also scored for his country for the first time in the 4-2 win over Holland earlier this month in what was his fifth cap.

Aston Villa signed Crewe skipper and midfielder Ashley Westwood for an undisclosed fee, on a four-year contract. The 22-year-old has put pen to paper on a deal which will keep him at Villa Park until the end of the 2015-16 campaign.

Westwood helped Crewe gain promotion to League One last season and is now relishing a crack at proving himself in the Barclays Premier League.

"I see myself as a Michael Carrick-type of player, someone who stays out of the limelight and keeps it simple, retaining the ball and laying it off to teammats," he said. "From the conversations I've had with the new manager (Paul Lambert) I think that will fit in perfectly here.

"He said to me that he's looking for younger lads to work with him, step up and lift this club to the next level and I'm really looking forward to the challenge. This is a fantastic football club, a massive club and I can't wait to get started really. It's a bit surreal right now but I'll get out training with the lads tomorrow morning and take it in my stride."

Chesterfield striker Jordan Bowery joined earlier Friday for an undisclosed fee on a three year contract.

Defenders Ron Vlaar, Joe Bennett and Matt Lowton and midfield duo Brett Holman and Karim El Ahmadi had previously linked up with Villa.

Information from Press Association was used in this report.

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