US international Clint Dempsey has refused to play for Fulham and is seeking a transfer to a Champions League team, the Premier League club’s manager, Martin Jol, said on Friday.
Dempsey was linked to Liverpool last month after Reds manager Brendan Rodgers admitted during a preseason tour of the US and Canada that the Merseyside club had inquired about the player.
However, no deal was forthcoming from Liverpool’s US owners, the Fenway Sports Group (FSG), which also owns the Boston Red Sox.
Asked if the attacking midfielder would face Norwich in yesterday’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.”
The problems follow a superb season for the 29-year-old midfielder, who had 23 goals in 46 games to become Fulham’s top scorer. He joined the west London club in 2007 and is the highestscoring American in the Premier League with 50 goals.
Referring to a hastily withdrawn report from FSG’s Web site at the start of the pre-season tour, Jol said: “The Fenway Group put on their Web site that Clint signed for Liverpool.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,” Jol said.
The Cottagers’ coach clearly thought 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,” the Dutchman said.
In an apparent response to Jol’s comments, Dempsey later made two short comments on his Twitter account.
“There are two sides to the story,” he tweeted, before adding: “The truth will come out soon.”
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,” Jol said. “So if there is no firm offer on the table he has to stay here.”
Dempsey has 12 months left on his Fulham contract.
He has been training away from the rest of the squad after missing Fulham’s preseason 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 inquired about, it is as simple as that,” Liverpool’s manager 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.”