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MLS Forces Premiership Clubs to Dig Deep for Dempsey

History says that Premier League clubs don't like to pay big transfer fees for Major League Soccer's field players. Tim Howard, a goalkeeper, fetched $3.6 million when he left the MetroStars for Manchester United, but Fulham paid the most expensive transfer fee to MLS for an American field player when it shelled out $1 million for former Columbus forward Brian McBride. Now that New England Revolution midfielder Clinton Dempsey looks poised to make the transatlantic leap in January, MLS wants to recoup more money. In August, the league received a $1.5 million offer from Charlton Athletic for Dempsey, but that offer was turned down. Dempsey, the 2006 Honda Player of the Year is the league's hottest prospect. He's also just 23, which is why MLS feels justified in demanding more. It's unclear just how much they want for Dempsey, as the league is unwilling to comment on transfer negotiations. Charlton Athletic, Fulham, Everton, Manchester City and West Ham United have all been linked to the Revs' midfielder, which is exactly what MLS wants: a bidding war to drive up his transfer fee. The Revolution is pretty much resigned to losing its best player, but can take consolation from new rules that give clubs an increased share of big transfer fees. Revs holding midfielder Shalrie Joseph could also depart; in August, MLS turned down a $1 million bid from Scottich champion Celtic.

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