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Something missing in potential Clint Dempsey move to Liverpool

Fulham v Newcastle United - Premier League

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 21: Clint Dempsey of Fulham in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Newcastle United at Craven Cottage on January 21, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

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If reports out of the UK prove true, that U.S. international Clint Dempsey is about to sign with Liverpool, there’s one element to all this tricky transfer math that doesn’t quite add up:

Playing in Champions League always seemed to be Dempsey’s primary motivation for escaping his bigger-fish-smaller-pond status at Fulham, and a noble aim it is. Fulham is club where the main mission each year is to dodge the scourge of relegation, to remain a Premier League club and possibly to nick the occasional Europa League spot or make some headway in the Carling Cup.

Obviously, a Champions League berth would be lovely around Craven Cottage, but it’s never truly a realistic target.

Liverpool dwells among the clubs of higher ambition, which is presumably why Dempsey would sign up for Anfield duty. But … the reality is that Liverpool isn’t a Champions League Club this year.

Liverpool finished 8th last year; Fulham placed 9th – both well out of Champions League view.

Liverpool does have a chance at Europa League action in the 2012-13 season, but Dempsey’s got that t-shirt already. In fact, he did well back in the Cottagers’ only Europa run, when current England boss Roy Hodgson took the West London team into the continental competition in 2008-09.

Which is yet another reason, we assume, that Liverpool is willing to spend about $11.6 million on Dempsey. Now they just have to get back into Champions League business.