Jermain Defoe, Tottenham’s 5th highest goal scorer, has travelled to Toronto to finalise his transfer to the Canadian Major League Soccer (MLS) club but why is he leaving Spurs now in mid-season?
I know some Spurs supporters have been highly critical of Jermain Defoe and have wanted him out of White Hart Lane for a considerable period of time so they will say, “Good riddance, he’s gone at last.”
The past year hasn’t been a good year for Defoe with only 1 goal in the Premier League but he has been a loyal player for Spurs and as he did on Saturday, has frequently came off the bench to add to his tally of goals for the club. The strike against Palace was his 22nd as a substitute in the Premier League, more than any other player.
From Defoe’s Perspective
From the player’s point of view, I can, in part, understand his decision. He has had a frustrating time being restricted to mid-week Europa League games and Cup matches with very limited opportunity in the league. In the summer of 2012 he said that at his age he wanted to be playing as often as possible so the past twelve months will have been tough for him.
Since the signing of Roberto Soldado in the summer, Defoe has been second choice. Even though the Spaniard has failed to live up to the goal scoring feats he achieved in Spain, Defoe still has made only occasional league appearances. Even with the appointment of Tim Sherwood and the return to playing two strikers, Sherwood has opted for Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor.
Today, Jermain Defoe is in Canada to complete the formalities of a deal which was first mooted at the end of November. Defoe’s aim for the season had always been to play regular football in order to give himself the chance of being included in the England World Cup squad for Brazil next summer.
Whether Defoe has sacrificed that ambition by signing for Toronto, I don’t know but having read an article about the state of the club he is set to join, I would question the wisdom of the move.The article in the Guardian on the state of Defoe’s new club made very interesting reading. Ryan Nelsen who spent five months with Spurs in 2012 is the 8th coach the club has had in 7 years. Toronto are routinely in the bottom three in the MLS and finished last in 2012. Under Nelsen they won 6 of their 34 games last season and finished second from bottom of the Eastern Conference.
On the confirmation of the move to Canada Defoe spoke of looking for a new challenge and making a fresh start. Having been offered a 4-year contract at 31 years of age, with a significant salary reported to be £90,000 per week, that will certainly soften the blow if his international career does come to an end before the World Cup finals.
Speaking to SkySports, Defoe said,
The most important thing for me is to be playing football, scoring goals and do well for the team. I want to come here, win trophies and do my best for the club.
David Beckham, Robbie Keane and Clint Dempsey have moved to MLS clubs and continued playing for their countries. They, however, went to clubs with a record of success which Toronto does not have. Defoe will play in every game and if the team can get the ball to him in goal scoring positions Defoe will find the back of the net. Will he be able to bring success to Toronto? – that is another question.
From Tottenham’s Viewpoint
It seems a strange move from the club’s point of view. If Spurs were selling Defoe with the intention of signing a striker during this month’s transfer window, I could understand it. Tim Sherwood, however, has said that the club is not looking to replace Defoe which leaves the manager with two strikers, Soldado and Adebayor.
We’ve been in this position before, needing a striker in January, not getting anyone and paying the consequences at the end of the season by missing out on Champions League football.Spurs currently have limited options:
- Emmanuel Adebayor who is playing well, having been brought back into the team by Sherwood but he is a highly temperamental player who could lose form and go ‘missing’ at any time.
- Roberto Soldado who is struggling for confidence in front of goal as he tries to rediscover the goal scoring form which made him a leading scorer while playing in Spain.
- Harry Kane but he isn’t an out and out striker. He made his name in the Academy team with his regular goalscoring feats but he is now more of a support player from the left for a main striker. He can still get among the goals as he’s proved at Under-21 level for Spurs and England but to expect him to deliver on a regular basis in the Premier League is a difficult task for the 20-year-old.
Defoe will return to Tottenham until the end of February but for the final, ten weeks of the season Spurs will be trying to get by with two recognised strikers unless we all get a January sales surprise with a new striker coming into White Hart Lane.
While many have been frustrated by Defoe, he has scored 143 goals for Tottenham in his two spells with the club and is the club’s 5th highest goal scorer of all time with only Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Smith, Martin Chivers and Cliff Jones ahead of him – very exalted company. Supporters are always looking and hoping for someone better but we have yet to find that player. We thought we had found him when we signed Soldado but to date he hasn’t shown any goalscoring form.
Defoe was always useful to have around as there was always the possibility that he would come up with a goal when it was needed.