Seattle Sounders and USMNT forward Clint Dempsey is officially heading back to Premier League side Fulham on a short-term loan deal.
Fulham passed along word via Twitter that the deal was finalized after weeks of speculation, suggesting Dempsey was preparing for a return after leaving the Premier League for Major League Soccer in the summer:
Fulham also showed Dempsey holding his new kit:
Dempsey will arrive back at Craven Cottage to a club that has struggled to showcase any type of consistent attacking form and face a relegation battle in the second half of the campaign. Fulham hope he can provide a boost to their chances of remaining in the top flight.
The Cottagers previously announced the 30-year-old American had already passed a physical with an eye toward a quick resolution for the winter window:
They also noted at the time that if the deal became official he would be with the club for the first two months of the new year:
Dempsey was with Fulham from 2007 through 2012 before spending one season with Tottenham. He scored 60 goals across all competitions—including 50 in league play—for the Cottagers and became a fan favorite in the process.
Returning to the Premier League to face a higher level of competition is also part of the forward's preparations for the World Cup.
Roger Bennett of ESPN passed along comments from U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann after Dempsey's transfer back to MLS, and he talked about the onus being on the player to make sure they find and maintain the highest level of play possible:
I would have told him it is his personal decision and he has to do what is right for him. Every time you make a decision in life, you make it based on what you see today, so you don't see the future. So we all hope that, by going back to MLS, his own level is not dropping because he is going from the Premier League, one of the best in the world, into a league which is trying to improve every year. It is improving, but it is not the same level and he knows that.
[Clint's] job will be to keep his level the highest possible. My job is to help push him to that level and when I am not happy to tell him to his face.
Dempsey should get plenty of chances to prove himself with Fulham given the club's attacking woes during the first half of the campaign. More than likely he'll step right into a key role once he shows his match fitness is up to par.
He only had marginal success during his one-season stint with Tottenham, scoring seven league goals after tallying 29 over his final two seasons at Fulham.
If he can rediscover that form, it would be great news for every team involved, from Fulham and Seattle at the club level to the United States national team. When he's pushing forward with confidence, he can be a very dangerous piece of a successful attack.
It's no guarantee he'll return to that level during a short loan stay after a dip in form, but it was worth taking a chance for Fulham, which is in desperate need for more offense.