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Clint Dempsey to Seattle: $9 million fee, $8 million salary sees Deuce back to MLS

Aug 2, 2013, 8:40 PM EDT

Clint Dempsey 2

All the money the Seattle Sounders have been banking with those huge CenturyLink Field attendances? They’ve paid off with one of the bigger transfer gets in Major League Soccer history, one that’s seen the club guarantee $41 million to bring U.S. international Clint Dempsey to Seattle.

Multiple sources within Major League Soccer have informed NBC Sports’ ProSoccerTalk that Tottenham Hotspur will receive a $9 million transfer fee for the U.S. captain’s services – roughly 95 percent of the £6 million Spurs reportedly paid for Dempsey last summer.  To complete the unexpected move, Seattle have guaranteed the 30-year-old attacker $32 million over the next four seasons, making him one of the most expensive players in league history.

Dempsey’s base salary will eclipse that of David Beckham and Thierry Henry, though other facets of Beckham’s contract gave him a percentage of the Galaxy’s revenue. The $32 million, however, is the largest base salary commitment a player has ever received from an MLS franchise.

The $9 million transfer fee will also be the highest paid in league history and the second major purchase made by the Sounders this summer. Seattle paid La Liga’s Levante $4 million to get striker Obafemi Martins out of his contract.

As a Designated Player, the former New England Revolution attacker will not have to go through the allocation process, to which internationals like Sounder Eddie Johnson and newly signed Chivas USA defender Carlos Bocanegra were subjected when they returned to MLS.

Dempsey was originally seen flying to Seattle last night, with rumors of Seattle’s connection to the U.S. international circulating Thursday morning. On Friday, ESPN originally reported Dempsey’s agreement with Seattle, with ProSoccerTalk confirming the story shortly there after.

Dempsey is set to return to the United States after six-and-a-half seasons in the Premier League, all but one of which were spent at Craven Cottage. During his time in England, Dempsey scored 72 time in 268 all-competition appearances, including a 23-goal season in 2011-12 with Fulham.

Tottenham Hotspur acquired the former Cottager on transfer deadline day last August, with Dempsey immediately moving into André Villas-Boas’ starting lineup. While his playing time decreased as the season progressed, Dempsey still scored 12 times in 43 all-competition appearances, his third-highest goal total since leaving New England in 2006.

He joins a Seattle Sounders team that sit seventh in the Western Conference, threatening to miss the postseason for the first time in franchise history. The addition of Dempsey, however, will bolster an attack that’s 14th in Major League Soccer in goals scored, one that already features fellow Johnson and Martins.

How Dempsey fits with those two strikers remains to be seen; however, Thursday on Seattle-based radio station KJR, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said the team was looking for a central or attacking midfielder to fill the Designated Player spot freed up by Shalrie Joseph’s renegotiated contract. Capable of playing in an attacking midfielder’s role, Dempsey could allow Schmid to incorporate his new star without sacrificing any of his existing goal scorers.

  1. Mike Prindiville - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    My head just popped.

    • patriotsdefense - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:52 PM

      It’s good for MLS, but is is good for Clint Dempsey? I think not on the latter.

      • tariencole - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:02 AM

        Playing is better than sitting. Deuce was odd man out for the Spurs. And if this hadn’t been done, he would be playing in the Reserves or on loan in the Championship, at best.

  2. danielofthedale - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    And I think we have just found the 32,000,000 reasons why Clint is coming back to MLS. Just glad to him back! This is a great day for Major League Soccer!

  3. cameltoews - Aug 2, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    This is so suspect. It seems like he is just in it for the money now.

    • mdac1012 - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:07 PM

      So what if he is? All athletes are, hell, all people are on some level. Anyone who says they wouldn’t at least consider leaving there current employer for a substantial, and I mean substantial raise, is a liar!

    • smokeisms - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:13 PM

      It’s not like he was making chump change in the EPL

      • mdac1012 - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:31 PM

        $22.2 million over 3 years at UK tax rates or $32 million over 4 years at U.S. tax rates. That’s a substantial difference.

      • smokeisms - Aug 2, 2013 at 11:58 PM

        Mdac… sure you know the difference between dollars and pounds?

      • mdac1012 - Aug 3, 2013 at 9:36 AM

        Yeah sunshine, I know the difference between dollars and pounds.

  4. mdac1012 - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:04 PM

    If Clint could have gotten that transfer to Liverpool last year, I think he would have stayed in the EPL. Going to the Spurs wound up being something he had to settle for and he probably saw that he wasn’t in AVB’s plans for the future. Other “big” EPL teams probably didn’t show enough interest in him to guarantee regular playing time.

    It’s GREAT for MLS, the Sounders and REALLY GREAT for Dempsey’s bank account! Will it be great for Dempsey the player? I guess we will find out. I thought at 30, he still had a few good years left in the EPL, but the trend in England right now seems to be that anyone 30 or over is washed up.

  5. charliej11 - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:20 PM

    Players are forced to play in the joke leagues of Europe all the time, why ? Money.

    Good to see it go the other way. He has to be happy he has something to play for other than for himself. THam was a good move, this is way better.

    • mdac1012 - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:40 PM

      “joke leagues of Europe….” ?????

      I suppose you consider the Premier League, La Liga; the Bundesliga & Serie A joke leagues? You can throw England’s second tier, Championship in there as well.

      Charlie, we all know you love MLS, as do I. This is great for MLS, but reality is reality, and there is no changing the fact that Deuce just took a big step backward in the level of talent he will be competing against week in and week out.

      • kirielson - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:50 PM

        He’s talking like Russia, Turkey, etc.

      • charliej11 - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:58 PM

        No, I am talking EPL, where teams like Everton are projected to finish 7th and are 500-1 shots to win it all. He is supposed to go there over Seattle…give me a break.

        It is a joke. Guys have to go their whole career never playing in a game that means anything.

        I get what you are saying mdac, but he needs to be in a place where he is trying to win somehting rather than losing to top teams in an unfair battle and then playing close games to teams that are not much better than MLS teams.

  6. bellerophon30 - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:23 PM

    I understand this a little better now, and can only hope that this makes Deuce happy ultimately.

  7. valiantdraws - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    When the USMNT played in Seattle recently, Deuce said something about how blown away he was by it all. And a little flag went up in my head. I thought to myself…”what if he…naaahhhh!”

  8. jpan007 - Aug 2, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    This better be true!

  9. drosejr - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    Daniel Levy can again take a bow. Never thought MLS would pay this big a fee, but it’s another sign of the league’s maturity. Probably only six to eight Euro leagues (EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, Serie A, Eredivisie, Turkey and Russia) that pay higher transfer fees these days. Hope the play that Dempsey encounters over the next four years can rise to that level.

    • charliej11 - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:52 PM

      The TThe EPL is a joke, most players rarely play in a meaningful game…ot was nice he got to THam, but if he doesn’t play os he better off at Fulham or Seattle. Seattle by a million miles. Something to try and win

      • charliej11 - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:53 PM

        Dont know why it posted down here…should be under my comment above sorry.

  10. kabloom123 - Aug 2, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    Agreed with many comments that its a step back from the EPL in general. But what if Spurs were to transfer him to a mid to lower table EPL club. That means no chance of Champions League and would that have been a step up. Not likely. Think about it if you’re in Dempsey’s shoes – what other top 4 team would take him from Spurs? None. Perhaps a few mid-table but he gets a huge pay day and think of the endorsement money, which will likely dwarf Donovan. Deuce is 30, with at best 2-3 years left of very top level soccer. This way he and his family will be set for life. And, while this may come as a bit of a shock, folks in Europe are aware of some of the biggest MLS clubs. We had a German exchange student here for a 2 weeks last August. He followed the Sounders, for whatever that’s worth.

  11. pcaz58 - Aug 3, 2013 at 12:32 AM

    Agree with kabloom … his time at Spurs going forward would be little to nothing. Not a place to be building confidence in advance of WC. AVB is a strange cat and for sure Duece would have suffered. Had he stayed in EPL and moved from Spurs he would be playing mid-table at best. Would I have rather seen him stay in EPL? Oh hell yeah. But like mdac mentions, anyone over 30 is being put to pasture on the bigger teams. The trend is young, Duece aint that. All in all this is good for him and in particular his family as growing little Americans is much easier in America. I wish him well. I’m the occasional MLS fan but Duece’s being back in the league will peak my interest more than it has. That said watching top shelf soccer is easy and getting easier … THANK YOU NBC!!! Looking forward to following Jozy, Brek, Brad, Tim and others this next season. Congrats to both Duece and the Sounders. Should be fun.

  12. footballer4ever - Aug 3, 2013 at 1:39 AM

    When MLS began in 1996, the only foreign talent they could get was old and in the brink of retirement and the homegrown talent was overlooked. As the years go by and the league has solidified, it makes sense for MLS to treat its own nationals who have excelled in foreign leagues to bring them back while they can contribute and paid them well. Clint Dempsey deserves to come back home and be appreciated as a footballer in our MLS football league. Welcome back, Son! :)

  13. talgrath - Aug 3, 2013 at 5:36 AM

    In fact, $8 million or so a year would make Dempsey the highest paid player in league history, unless you count Beckham’s portion of the LA Galaxy income(which was undisclosed) or his options to buy his own franchise that he received. Beckham made $6.5 million in salary, which is less $1.5 million a year less than Dempsey’s; unless of course the Galaxy paid him more than $1.5 million a year from the undisclosed income.

  14. tr3y11 - Aug 3, 2013 at 9:18 AM

    This isn’t a terrible decision by any stretch. Ideal for the majority of US fans, No. He’s going to be getting consistent playing time and will more than likely go on loan in the winter. Dempsey will be fine. Hope he’s happy with his decision and wish him luck.

  15. travishenryskid - Aug 3, 2013 at 7:55 PM

    I’m very disappointed

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