Well, that escalated quickly. ESPNFC's Doug MacIntyre is reporting that Tottenham Hotspur and Seattle Sounders are in the final stages of completing the transfer of American national team star Clint Dempsey to America and Major League Soccer.
MacIntyre quotes two "high level Sounders employees" in the story who, while both declined comment, made it clear that SOMETHING'S up. One was quoted as saying "But let's put it this way: I'm not surprised I'm receiving a call." More details about the proposed transfer are at the ESPN article.
Edit: Richard Farley, writing for NBC Sports, is reporting that Dempsey will be sold to Sounders for a fee of $9m (5.9 GBP), or about 95% of what Spurs paid to bring Dempsey from Fulham. Farley also reports that Dempsey is set to make about $8m a year in wages.
I have to say that this move is pretty surprising to me on a number of levels. While Dempsey being on the block at Spurs is NOT surprising, the idea that he'd be willing to move back to MLS, and specifically to Seattle, is pretty shocking. While #ITK has been all over Dempsey's recent sighting in the San Francisco airport yesterday, it was thought that he was more realistically going to link up with Everton, a team that would fit his skills and abilities very well and that is on the West Coast at the moment as part of their pre-season MLS tour. Seattle was breathlessly mentioned by Sounders fan as a Dempsey destination, but not many people really took it seriously. Turns out they were probably right.
Dempsey's move to Spurs from Fulham was attractive to him initially because he didn't want to have to relocate his family, and a cross-London trek was much more appealing than moving to Liverpool. Moving to MLS would give him a lot more playing time in a World Cup year, but Dempsey has been pretty clear in the past in wanting to play at the highest level possible in European football. Dominating MLS (and he will dominate) is not exactly the same thing as being a starter for even a mid-table EPL club. So it's a strange move.
Dempsey will most assuredly be one of Seattle's three Designated Players (DPs) along with Obafemi Martins and Mauro Rosales. The DP rule allows each MLS club to have three players that exceed the league-wide salary cap. If the deal goes through he becomes an instant starter on an MLS franchise that is soccer crazy, and gives the Seattle organization a massive boost from ticket and jersey sales.
Clint's days were numbered at Spurs, so it's no surprise that he's moving on. I wish him nothing but the best as he presumably enters this new phase of his career and as he tries to prepare for next summer's World Cup in Brazil, one that will probably be his last.
Godspeed, Clint. Thanks for a good year in Lilywhite.