Over the course of two weeks, Clint Dempsey helped engineer a move to Seattle. There were two other possibilities, but the Sounders became his preferred destination. Major League Soccer fostered the deal, aid that included paying the entire $9 million transfer fee to Tottenham Hotspur. His 3.5 year contract gives him a base salary that eclipses David Beckham’s.
Thanks to Grant Wahl’s excellent reporting, we now know how Clint Dempsey ended up in Seattle. We also know more of his contract details, with SI.com correcting the length of the deal originally reporting here at ProSoccerTalk. Instead of a four-year contract, Dempsey’s deal is six months shorter, taking him through the 2016 season.
That’s important as if concerns the analysis from Friday. At the time, we discussed Seattle’s $41 million commitment. That’s not the case. It’s actually “only” $24 million, a number reduced by the shorter length of Dempsey’s deal and MLS covering the transfer free.
(Of note: those numbers, reported by SI, are Dempsey’s “base” salary; sources confirm to ProSoccerTalk. Dempsey’s guaranteed annual compensation is $8 million per season, as reported on Friday.)
More from Wahl’s piece, on how the deal started to gain momentum:
MLS commissioner Don Garber sent an e-mail to Seattle’s majority owner, the Hollywood studio chairman Joe Roth. “Call me,” the email read. “It’s important.”
Roth called Garber. “Clint Dempsey is interested in Seattle,” Garber told him. “Are you interested in him?”
At first, Roth thought Garber was playing a practical joke on him. But Garber wasn’t laughing. This was no joke. “Absolutely we’re interested,” Roth told him. “I’ll convince my partners, and you guys do the negotiations.”
Roth had long sought Dempsey, according to SI.com, but didn’t think it was possible. Now that the Spurs attacker was within reach, he wasn’t going to miss out.
Eventually, he agreed to put up 35 percent of the money. Co-owner and general manager Adrian Hanauer put up another 32.5 percent, with the team’s other partners making up the rest.
The deal, which allows Dempsey to go on loan this winter, came together over the All-Star break, leading to last week’s frantic events. Dempsey flew from London to Seattle (via San Francisco) on Thursday. The deal was reported done on Friday. He was introduced to the team’s fans on Saturday, with an official unveiling today at CenturyLink.
According to Don Garber, who spoke to SI.com for Wahl’s piece, the move completes the most-significant acquisition in MLS history:
“This signing ranks right at the very top … We have been going through a process that started almost 10 years ago … That really started with Landon Donovan … Then it kicked to a higher gear with David Beckham …
“You follow from that Thierry Henry and Cuauhtémoc Blanco, who were able to make a difference for us … With Clint, it takes all of this to an even higher level. For the first time we have a world-renowned player who has international experience who’s saying I want to come to Major League Soccer in my prime.”
The piece is worth a read in its entirety, a read that will leave you with a number of lingering questions. One which we’re sure to tackle on this site: How will fans feel about MLS paying the transfer fee for Seattle? That’s something that won’t sit well with many teams in Major League Soccer.