LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 01: Martin Skrtel of Liverpool competes with Clint Dempsey of Fulham during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Fulham at Anfield on May 1, 2012 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clint Dempsey wants to leave Fulham. No club statement is going to hide that. His ambition for 'Champions League football' has never been disguised particularly well - in fact, it's been quite elaborately exposed by the man himself on more than one occasion. Still, though, we cling on, vainly, to the hope that he will see sense and put pen to paper on a new deal at Craven Cottage.
We grasp to the belief that Dempsey will perhaps find some significant solace in what he already has in SW6 - a team which it seems is on the up and, dare it be said, ambitious. The grip is ever dwindling though and despite the cosmic gaffe of Liverpool owners, Fenway Sports, who claimed that the American was already an Anfield man, there's the distant thought in the back of every Fulham fan's mind that he has his mind set elsewhere. And, unfortunately, that distant thought is probably bang on the money.
Of course, there is still some hope. Brendan Rodgers has confirmed his interest, officially, but FFC are standing firm, stating no bid has been made. Perhaps that is the case and maybe it will stay that way. It's unlikely, but plausible nonetheless.
Maybe, though, in the times of a new-generation Fulham under Martin Jol's stewardship, we should look at this saga on the bright side, in an un-Fulhamish way. Life after Dempsey could well be sweet.
We will miss the promise of 23 goals, as he brought us last season. We will sorely miss the seventeen points he won us, on his own back, in the last campaign which, without, would have seen us finish in 18th place and in the Championship. But in the quick-fire world of football, everything and everyone is replaceable and Clint Dempsey, at 29 years old and with only a year left on his contract, is by no means untouchable.
He is unique, that's a given. He blends his midfield role with a panache for goalscoring that even Frank Lampard cannot fathom any more. His aerial talent is undeniable and, considering his position on the field, somewhat baffling. They're all admirable traits but why not just have an out-and-out striker who can claim the goals that we will miss with Dempsey? Hugo Rodallega, though hugely talented, is not that man, and neither is Mladen Petric, so you have to believe that Jol is still on the lookout and the names that have popped up certainly make Dempsey's potential departure that little bit easier to take.
Vincenzo Iaquinta, though ageing, has ability in abundance and is willing to leave Juventus. His agent suggested that Fulham was a "concrete possibility" but then went to confirm that no real approach has been made from Jol. His best times coming at Udinese, where he scored 58 goals, the Italian attracted interest from all over Europe and opted to stay in his homeland, settling in well with current Seria A champions Juve. There, he has averaged just over a goal every three games but, despite the respectable record, he has been frozen out in Turin. Mohammed Al Fayed, though, may well bulk at his wages.
Andy Carroll has been linked and would be a superb acquisition but, despite having Clint Dempsey here to sweeten a deal, anything on that front already seems dead in the water. Yannick Sagbo, of French side Evian, looks a good prospect but there are no guarantees that he is of Premier League standard. Maybe, then, we could promote from within, with Marcello Trotta proving he can perform for the first team with two goals on Wednesday evening in a 4-0 hammering of Lokomotiv Leipsig. Leipsig are, of course, no Manchester United, but these are early days. His second goal oozed quality and confidence and despite a barren spell at Watford towards the end of last season, you get the feeling that stints in the first team will not be beyond him in this campaign.
And, aside from who can replace him, what, genuinely, are the pros to keeping ahold of Dempsey? If we do, we lose the transfer fee that we could quite rightly inflate this summer, after such an impressive year. Plus, Jol doesn't suffer fools kindly and a man who doesn't want to play simply won't.
All the signs, then, point to Dempsey departure but it doesn't leave Fulham flawed. Al Fayed has shown intention to back Jol in the close season and I would expect there to be plenty of activity - with or without the sale of our American star. With a positive perspective, all parties could end up pleased.