By Wayne Veysey
Arsenal have approached Fulham about the possibility of signing Clint Dempsey, Goal.com can reveal.
The Gunners made their move before Sunday's 8-2 humiliation at Manchester United after Arsene Wenger identified the American's versatility and experience as qualities that can improve his threadbare squad.
Goal.com understands Arsenal are now weighing up a formal bid for the 28-year-old, who is believed to be interested in a move to a Champions League club.
Fulham do not want to sell their key attacker but privately accept that they will be unable to fend off Arsenal if the north Londoners match their valuation of £10 million for a player who is highly regarded at Craven Cottage and has two years remaining on his contract.
Martin Jol is ready to make a late move for FC Twente's Bryan Ruiz if he loses Dempsey. The 26-year-old Costa Rican has been closely tracked by Fulham during the window and has admitted that he is open to a move to England although the Londoners' £50,000-a-week wage ceiling could be a stumbling block to any deal materialising.
Fulham's main priority in the tail end of the window has been to hold on to Dempsey, who was the club’s leading scorer last season with 13 goals, including 12 in the Premier League. He has already added another two in the Europa League this season and scored in his team's 2-1 defeat at Newcastle United on Sunday.
There has also been interest in the USA international this summer from Liverpool, Everton, Aston Villa and Newcastle in the Premier League as well as newly-rich Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla on the continent.
Sources close to Dempsey say he has aspirations to play in the Champions League after joining Fulham from the MLS in January 2007. He has established a fine reputation in England as a durable attacking midfielder who can play anywhere behind the main striker and create as well as score goals.
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