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Clint Dempsey doesn’t sound like a man staying at Fulham

May 25, 2012, 9:28 AM EDT

Dempsey-US 2

First things first: don’t look for Clint Dempsey in Saturday’s friendly against Scotland. He didn’t say so, exactly … but you don’t need Superhero ability to read between the lines to read between the lines on this one.

Dempsey talked at length to Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl this week from the U.S. camp in Orlando. He mentions having missed about 14 days (due to a groin injury) and says he needs to be “smart.” He also said that it “doesn’t make sense to play in a game if you’re not able to be close to 100 percent.”

So when the NBC Sports Network cameras roll Saturday night (kickoff at 8 p.m. ET), Dempsey is almost sure to be on the bench.

As for his future, that’s where Wahl’s interview climbs the “interesting” ladder. It’s not that we haven’t heard it before, but his words are landing with greater resonance now, so close to decision-making time, a.k.a. the summer transfer window.

I’ve always said I’m grateful for everything Fulham has done for me. Some of the best memories I have in soccer have been there. But the fact remains that I want to play in Champions League. I want to play at the highest level possible.

“I want to do as much as I can in my career and look back and say I made the most of all the opportunities I’ve had. I’m always going to want to play in Champions League. It’s something I’ve never done. I’d like to test myself at that level. That way I can look back and say, ‘Hey, I gave it a go. Either I was good enough or I wasn’t good enough.’ ”

Again, sound like a man who prefers to remain comfortable, who would rather play out his days at Craven Cottage, where he knows he’ll start in pretty much every league match, but will almost surely never get into Champions League? Nah.

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