Clint Dempsey is in demand, and Goal.com has a list of clubs where the Fulham midfielder could end up this summer.
Among the possible European destinations are Germany's FC Schalke 04, Italy's AS Roma, England's Arsenal and Spain's Malaga CF, Valencia CF and Sevilla CF.
Dempsey is having the greatest goalscoring season an American outfield player has ever had in Europe, and bigger clubs are starting to take note. He has 22 goals in all competition (and counting).
Dempsey's contract ends after the 2012-13 season and, with his value at an all-time high, the summer of 2012 might finally be the time the Cottagers cash in on their prized asset.
Below is a break down of all six of the potential clubs, making a special note of each team's current standing for next year's Champions League – a competition Dempsey has made clear he greatly wishes to be a part of.
FC Schalke 04
Current position: third in Bundesliga (four Champions League spots)
Dempsey would be a good fit at the Veltins Arena for a number of reasons. Schalke is all but assured a spot in the Champions League for 2012-13, as it currently lies 14 points ahead of fifth-placed Stuttgart. The club is desperately trying to hold onto star striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who, with an incredible 43 goals in 42 games this season, is attracting interest from some of Europe's giants. Signing Dempsey would be a nice statement of intent to show “The Hunter” the team is serious about making an impact domestically and in Europe.
Huntelaar is a classic goal poacher who does his best work inside the box, which would dovetail nicely with Dempsey, who prefers to face the defense and create. Furthermore, Schalke may lose Peruvian winger Jefferson Farfan, who will be out of a contract in the offseason. In Dempsey, the club would have a ready-made replacement to slot into the right wing position in the team's 4-2-3-1 formation. Having U.S. international teammate Jermaine Jones at the club already wouldn't hurt Dempsey's transition to the Bundesliga, either.
Current position: third in La Liga (four Champions League spots)
An afterthought until just a couple of years ago, Malaga has burst onto the scene thanks to a massive injection of cash by Qatari royal Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Al-Thani, who bought the club in the summer of 2010. Since then, Al-Thani has invested well over 100 million euros in new players, staff, and facilities. Flush with cash and on the verge of the Champions League, many hope Malaga can develop into the mythical third steed in what is currently a perpetual two-horse race in La Liga.
The club could do with a bit more offensive firepower, though, as forward Jose Rondon leads the team in goals on the season with just nine in all competitions - less than half of Dempsey's tally. Clearly, Malaga would have no trouble meeting Fulham's valuation for Dempsey, but with its already substantial riches potentially further enhanced with Champions League money, one wonders if Los Boquerones may set their sights on younger, more high-profile reinforcements.
Current position: sixth in Serie A (three Champions League spots)
American businessman Thomas DiBenedetto bought Roma last summer and, since then, a host of U.S. national team stars have been linked with the Giallorossi. DiBenedetto has already invested heavily in the squad, and talks about his desire to turn Roma into a “global brand,” a goal which would be furthered by the acquisition of a North American star like Dempsey.
On the pitch, head coach Luis Enrique prefers an attack-minded and fluid 4-3-3 formation. Were Dempsey to be inserted into the Roma lineup, he'd fit anywhere along the frontline, but could also fill a role on either wing alongside Daniele De Rossi, who patrols the center midfield. Roma may not be in the mix for next year's Champions League, but as Dempsey's Fulham teammate John Arne Riise would tell him, Roma is a big club with big ambitions and an extremely devoted fan base.
Current position: eighth in La Liga (four Champions League spots)
The idea of Jesus Navas beating his man down the right flank and crossing for Deuce to go up and win in the box must be tempting for Los Rojiblancos, who are currently out of any European position, but qualified for the Champions League as recently as the 2009-10 season.
The club has been more seller than buyer in the transfer market in the past couple seasons, though, and Dempsey's valuation of 10 million euros would represent the highest transfer fee Sevilla has paid since the 2009-10 season. Without any Champions League cash coming in, the club would have to rely on selling players to raise enough money to afford Dempsey. With striker Alvaro Negredo being linked to a Chelsea move, the club from southern Spain may just find the money required to make a bid for the American.
Current position: fourth in La Liga (four Champions League spots)
Speaking of a club that's been more of a seller than buyer, Valencia has been forced to offload David Villa, David Silva and Juan Mata in the last two seasons due to massive debt issues. Still, obsessively hardworking head coach Unai Emory led the team into last year's Champions League round of 16 and this season Los Che fell just short of that mark, finishing third in the group phase.
Playing behind serial-goalscoring forward Roberto Soldado, and in front of the excellent Ever Banega, Dempsey would help form a highly-effective spine. Will Valencia have the funds the bid for Deuce, though? The club is in a fight to retain star left back Jordi Alba, who is the subject of interest from Barcelona, and may not be able to make a play for Dempsey if it keeps Alba and Soldado, who is being eyed up by several clubs from the Premier League.
Current position: third in Premier League (four Champions League spots)
Much like Huntelaar at Schalke, the Gunners will be desperate to hold onto their star striker Robin van Persie, and signing Dempsey (along with some defensive reinforcements) would strengthen their pitch to keep him in north London. For Dempsey, Arsenal would be intriguing because it is a consistent Champions League qualifier, and its location would mean he wouldn't have to change leagues or cities.
Last summer, Dempsey confirmed a Goal.com report that Arsenal tried to sign him at the transfer deadline.
Though Dempsey has been in excellent form over the past two seasons, he would face a fight for playing time at the Emirates, with Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gervinho and a rejuvenated Tomas Rosicky all fighting for three attacking midfield spots. Deuce has the quality to start for Arsene Wenger, but the French manager is likely to spend big this offseason, and if Dempsey is brought in, he'll likely be joined by even more competition for playing time.
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