Clint Dempsey’s six-year spell in English football is coming to an end after Tottenham announced Saturday it had reached an agreement with Major League Soccer to transfer the United States forward to the Seattle Sounders.
Dempsey was introduced as the newest designated player for the Sounders on Saturday night prior to Seattle’s match against FC Dallas.
It concluded a whirlwind 48 hours of rumours and speculation that Dempsey was leaving Tottenham Hotspur and returning to Major League Soccer.
ESPN first reported Friday that a transfer was imminent and Tottenham confirmed Dempsey’s move back to MLS early Saturday.
Terms of Dempsey’s deal were not announced by the club, but British media are reporting that his move to Seattle Sounders is for around $9.2 million.
“This is a historic day for Sounders FC and our fans,” Sounders majority owner Joe Roth said in a release.
“Clint is a world-class soccer player who can take this club to a higher level. We have been consistent in our message to the fans that we will spare no expense to win trophies.”
Dempsey was expected to address the reasons behind his move during a news conference scheduled for Monday. Seattle coach Sigi Schmid brought Dempsey into the locker room and introduced him to the team before Seattle’s 3-0 victory over Dallas.
“I’m happy for him. It’s good for the league having a player like Clint come back at a young age who still has many more years of soccer left in him,” Seattle forward Eddie Johnson said.
“It just shows you where soccer is in this country having guys like that come back says a lot about how much the league has grown, how much better the soccer is here in America. It’s only going to attract many other good football players throughout the world.”
The 30-year-old Dempsey played for the New England Revolution from 2004-06 before joining Fulham in 2007.
He moved to Tottenham last summer and scored 12 goals in 43 games, but wasn’t a regular starter for the Spurs while being used in rotation with other attacking players.
The move is surprising as Dempsey is giving up a chance to play in one of the top leagues in the world in the prime of his career and a year before the World Cup in Brazil.
“I was a little bit surprised about it, sure. Because it is an interesting step career wise at a point in time where you would kind of maybe question that,” former US national team goalkeeper and current Sounders TV analyst Kasey Keller said before Saturday’s announcement.
“But when you look more at the details and who is involved and what we’re talking about financially it all kind of comes into place.”
There were signs Seattle was on the verge of making a big splash before the international transfer window closed.
The Sounders cleared one of their three designated player slots earlier this week when midfielder Shalrie Joseph restructured his contract to no longer be counted as a designated player.
The team’s website also asked fans to arrive early for Saturday night’s game against FC Dallas for what the club called a “special presentation.”
At 7:26 p.m., a video chronicling Dempsey’s career highlights played on the CenturyLink Field video board and moments later he revealed his new rave green jersey.
“I think we’ll accomplish some great things here, so thank you,” Dempsey told the roaring fans.
One of the most successful Americans to play in England’s top league, Dempsey spent five years playing at Fulham, where he scored 50 goals in 184 league appearances and became a fan favourite. Last year with Tottenham, Dempsey scored seven goals in 29 Premier League matches, scored three times in two FA Cup matches and had two more goals in 10 other games.