The curious case of Jermain Defoe

One of the victims of Tottenham’s major squad reconstruction over the summer has seemingly been Jermain Defoe, who has had another frustrating season so far at White Hart Lane.

The England international has been given some fleeting chances to play in the Premier League this term, but the hitman has been predominantly reduced to stepping out in cup competitions.

As things stand, the transfer rumblings of the 31-year-old moving to the MLS are gathering pace, with a switch to Toronto FC to be reunited with former team-mate Ryan Nelsen on the cards.

However, with Defoe clearly more than able to still play in the Premier League and still a contender for a place in England’s World Cup squad, it appears that the striker is caught between prioritising ambition or financial gain.

Nelsen has admitted that the Canadian club are in talks with Spurs over a transfer, but has also claimed that Defoe has (more than likely less-lucrative) offers to stay in the Premier League.

The first thing that the attacker needs is regular first-team football. Despite being Tottenham’s fifth highest goalscorer of all time, Defoe’s two stints at White Hart Lane have been blighted with prolonged periods on the sidelines.

There is no doubt that the Englishman would be one of the drawcards of the MLS should be move to Toronto, and the offer to go stateside would surely be a bumper final payday for the poacher.

HowJermain Defoeever, from an ambition point of view, moving now to Canada seems like a premature decision. With plenty of Premier League sides needing a proven goalscorer this January, there is no doubt that the former West Ham and Portsmouth man could still get a game in the English top flight.

The salary he receives or contract length may not be as appealing, but he would be playing at a much higher level than the MLS and be in Roy Hodgson’s gaze.

If the World Cup squad was picked today, Defoe would not be in it. Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Daniel Sturridge seem like virtual certainties to be included for the tournament in Brazil and it may well be that there is only one, or maybe two, attacking positions left for him to fight for.

A move to another Premier League club, the regaining of his sharpness and a consistent run of games and goals could be the catalyst to allow Defoe his last chance to feature at a World Cup.

For Tottenham, the club will be more open to selling Defoe abroad so that he does not come back to haunt them, and the fee on offer from Toronto is likely to be more than what Premier League clubs may pay.

However, losing Defoe will rob the side of an out-and-out predator. The north London side have been guilty of struggling to score consistently this season, with Roberto Soldado still very much to refind his shooting boots.

Unless an able deputy is found as a replacement, Tim Sherwood’s squad would be light of attacking options should Defoe leave. More importantly, Tottenham’s most natural finisher will have departed White Hart Lane when goals are much needed to achieve a top-four finish.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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