In what seems to be a growing trend for professional footballers, Clint Dempsey has allegedly gone on strike, and refused to play for Fulham in their opening game against Norwich. This comes after Dempsey missed the team's pre-season tour to Switzerland, resulting in him missing from action for over a month. Fulham ended up thrashing Norwich in a resounding 5-0 victory, and the win came with a message; Fulham can play good football, and they can play it without Dempsey.
Rumours have run rampant over the summer regarding Dempsey's future, with most of the talk mentioning a move to Liverpool in his quest for Champions League Football (a statement that has some football fans questioning if Liverpool's chances are actually any better than Fulham's). It didn't help matters when Liverpool's owners Fenway Sports Group mistakenly posted a news article on their states-side website claiming he had joined the club, only to back-track on the announcement and amend the story.
The current situation is still shrouded in mystery: Dempsey's last comments on the matter were posted on his twitter account last Friday, when he cryptically announced that, "There are two sides to the story," and, "The truth will come out soon."
Martin Jol's take on the matter has also been pretty confusing. First he told the media at how disappointed he was with situation, and even claimed it was Dempsey himself that was drumming up the Liverpool transfer rumour. A day later he had a different tune to sing, insisting it was a 'joint decision' between Dempsey and himself (in sitting out of the opener) to avoid possible injury.
Yet one thing hasn't changed - Clint is still at Fulham, and an official offer is yet to be made. So where does that leave him? Will he stay on and cement his status as Fulham's greatest ever, or will he be out the door by the end of the month?
Staying at Fulham:
Although earlier reports state Dempsey will never play for Fulham again, in the weekend's post-match interview Jol said, "In a normal world you have to stay where you are because you signed your contract and hopefully he will play for us again."
Despite this, Jol has made the appropriate measures to fill the goal-scoring void Dempsey will undoubtedly leave, signing the likes of Hugo Rodallega and Mladen Petric. Both have already made an impact for the team - Petric netted two goals and set up a third, while Rodallega was brought down in the area, resulting in a penalty and The Cottagers 5th goal.
Youngster Alex Kacaniklic also showed he may be capable of filling Dempsey's shoes in the middle of the park - the 21 year old had a fantastic game and gave The Canaries defence a torrid time.
If he does end up staying, Fulham may actually be a contender for a spot in the Europa League, and Dempsey's dreams of European football may come true, to a degree.
On to Greener Pastures:
Liverpool still seems to be the most likely destination for Dempsey, however it doesn't look like they agree with Fulham's valuation of the player (estimated to be around the £10 million mark).
Arsenal has also been mentioned as a potential suitor, and the sales of Alex Song and Robert Van Persie means that the club does have money to spend. However the arrival of Santi Cazorla and Nuri Sahin means The Gunners don't really need him.
Other rumoured interest has come from Sunderland, however it seems highly unlikely that Dempsey will move to a club that hasn't ever finished above 9th place in the Premier League.
It really does seem like Dempsey is on the way out, and if Fulham don't ship him off this transfer window they risk losing him for nothing next season, as his contract runs out. Despite this, Jol has publicly stated that, "We won't let Clint Dempsey go for cheap, that is for sure."
Missing pre-season may also end up impacting his position in the national team. Team USA has a crucial World Cup Qualifier against Jamaica next month, and he will need to get match fit pretty quickly if he wants to be called up.
I think Fulham will end up buckling and selling Dempsey off to Liverpool for less than the desired £10 million mark. This will probably be the best result for both clubs, as Liverpool could certainly do with an extra goal threat, and Fulham need to make a profit on their best player over the past 3 years.