Fulham are still hopeful they can sign the Manchester United forward Dimitar Berbatov, despite interest from Juventus, as they seek to counteract the disruption caused by Moussa Dembélé's departure for Tottenham Hotspur.
Dembélé completed his £15m move to Spurs on Tuesday and has signed a five-year deal at White Hart Lane, with the Fulham manager Martin Jol now targeting a number of players he hopes to secure Friday night. The Sunderland midfielder Kieran Richardson is expected to join for £2m – the 27-year-old should make his debut in Saturday's derby against West Ham – though it is Berbatov who would prove the most eye-catching arrival.
The Bulgaria international, who worked with Jol at Spurs, is available at United for around £4m and had been due to leave for Fiorentina, only apparently to go back on a verbal agreement to join the Viola. His non-appearance at a scheduled meeting in Florence to undergo a medical and complete his move prompted a furious reaction, with the Serie A club claiming the 31-year-old did not "deserve our city, our shirt and the values it represents".
"The player and his agent had embarked on a flight to Florence, with tickets paid for by the club," said Fiorentina in a statement. "But they never arrived because of reckless and arrogant actions of other clubs which have nothing to do with the values of honesty, fair play and sporting ethics."
Fiorentina were under the impression their financial offer on personal terms had been trumped by Juve, the reigning Serie A champions, though Fulham have also entered the running to secure Berbatov, with the Londoners cautiously optimistic that they can still bring him back to the capital. Jol, who had previously considered a move for Genk's Christian Benteke, has also expressed interest in the France forward Bafetimbi Gomis, who is available at Lyon following the club's failure to qualify for the Champions League.
Fulham have also enquired about the potential availability of the West Ham midfielder Mark Noble, who has entered the final year of his contract at Upton Park and has yet to agree terms on an extension. There is interest, too, in the much-coveted Blackpool winger Matt Phillips, a target for Southampton already this summer, while Wolfsburg's Iranian-German midfielder, Ashkan Dejagah, has also been heavily scouted.
It remains to be seen whether either Sunderland or Liverpool revive their interest in Clint Dempsey, who has been cast to the fringes by the Cottagers having indicated he no longer wanted to play for the club. No firm bids have as yet been forthcoming for the United States international, yet the possibility remains that he could follow Dembélé out of Craven Cottage before tomorrow's cut-off.
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