U.S. men’s national team fan, meet Moussa Dembélé, the nice young man pictured to the right. Since you watch Clint Dempsey at Fulham, you may already know him (I didn’t want to be presumptuous). He’s the young Belgian player in the middle of the park that tends to see a lot of the ball when Fulham’s attacking.
At least, he was that player before today. Now, one day after he was held out of Martin Jol’s during Fulham’s 1-0 League Cup loss to second-tier Sheffield Wednesday, Dembélé is on his way to Tottenham Hotspur, the North London club having triggered the 25-year-old’s $22 million release clause. He’s no Luka Modric, but for the price, talent, and age, Spurs fans shouldn’t be too upset with how Daniel Levy’s started using Real Madrid’s $52.2 million.
We’ll get to that move in another post, but this is The Daily Dempsey. What does Dembélé’s move north mean for the U.S. international?
Likely, it means nothing, but it could also wake Jol up to the fact that he’s not holding his team together. Following last year’s top-half finish, the Fulham boss may have had designs of “pushing on” and competing at the edge of Europe. That can still happen without Dembélé, and it could happen without Dempsey, but it’s going to be a heck of a lot harder. Given the delicate financial margins in which Fulham operates, you can see why Jol was trying to keep the band together. But now that another tour is out of the question, there may be a slightly increased inclination to say “well, Plan A’s shot. Might as well sell Clint.”
Of course, if you believe Jol, selling Dempsey’s not really an issue, given no teams have bid for him, a contention that makes possible tapping up changes all the more curious. More likely, this is a game of chicken between Fulham and Liverpool (with new interest from Sunderland to be used more as leverage than as a viable option). With Dembélé gone, does Jol have a greater incentive to blink?
Thankfully, we only have two more days to find out, though all of this must be incredibly frustrating to Clint Dempsey. He’s obviously been trying to move for some time. Then to wake up one day and see a younger player whose put in less time at Fulham get a break (to another club in London even) has got to be tough.
Imagine what Dempsey will be feeling if, come Saturday morning, he’s still with Fulham.