Ajax, Besiktas, Fenerbahce looking at Jozy Altidore; Clint Dempsey considering options

By Ronald Blum, AP
Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ajax, Besiktas, Fenerbahce looking at Altidore

NEW YORK — Ajax, Besiktas and Fenerbahce have shown interest in acquiring Jozy Altidore from Villarreal in addition to Premier League clubs, and a loan and permanent transfer both are possibilities for the 20-year-old American forward.

A member of this year’s U.S. World Cup team, Altidore spent last season on loan to Hull and scored two goals last season as the Tigers were relegated. He is due to start preseason training with Villarreal on Aug. 3.

“A lot of the top clubs around Europe have been in touch, and we’re just looking at what’s the best for Jozy’s career at this point,” his agent, Lyle Yorks, said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “It’s important to find a home for himself where he’s going to get games, continue to develop and really show his abilities.”

The European transfer window remains open through Aug. 31, but the Premier League opens Aug. 14 and La Liga on Aug. 28.

“We’re not trying to rush into anything at this point,” Yorks said. “There are advantages to getting it done early because you obviously have a longer preseason to get into the team, but it’s important to get the right fit.”

Yorks said he had had discussions with two Premier League clubs he wouldn’t identify. Fulham also has held discussions about Altidore, pending a decision on hiring a manager to replace Roy Hodgson, who left the Cottagers to become Liverpool’s manager.

Altidore was acquired by Villarreal from Major League Soccer and the New York Red Bulls in June 2008 for about $10 million. He became the first American to score in La Liga but played just six matches before he was loaned to second-division Xerez at midseason. He didn’t get into another game that season, then was loaned to Hull for 2009-10.

“If it’s a full transfer, then the transfer would have to be agreeable with Villarreal,” Yorks said. “They spent quite a bit to get him. If it’s a loan, then the pressure’s off a little bit.”

American midfielder Clint Dempsey, another client, reported back to Fulham following the World Cup, where he scored the U.S. goal in the 1-1 tie against England. Fulham said last August it had extended Dempsey’s contract through the 2012-13 season but the 27-year-old may have options to consider.

Yorks said since the World Cup there had been inquiries about Dempsey from fairly large clubs in Italy, Germany and France, and from another Premier League team. The interest levels varied.

“He’s prepared to start the season with Fulham, and if there’s a right scenario that presents itself where it made sense for the club and for Clint, then he would certainly entertain that,” Yorks said.

Defender Oguchi Onyewu intends to remain with AC Milan, a team he joined last summer. Onyewu was limited to one competitive game for the club last season because of a knee injury and in May extended his contract for a season until June 2013 at no extra cost.

“At this point, he’s definitely set on staying there,” Yorks said. “Various clubs have called regarding a loan situation, but because he missed last season, he’s obviously keen to start the situation in Milan.”

Yorks and his agent group also are trying to find a new club for midfielder DaMarcus Beasley, who left Glasgow Rangers. Yorks said he’s exploring the possibility of new deals for midfielder Benny Feilhaber, who is with Denmark’s Aarhus, and defender Clarence Goodson, who plays for Norway’s IK Start.

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