Well its not quite the “biggest signing in MLS history that MLSE President Tim Leiweke promised, but it is a big one as Toronto FC have reportedly agreed to buy Jermain Defoe from Tottenham Hotspur for £6 million and pay Defoe a reported £90,000-a-week for the next four years.
At today’s exchange rates, that translates into a transfer fee of $10.3 million Canadian and wages of $155,000 a week. That would make the 31-year-old Defoe one of the highest paid players in MLS.
The timing is a little strange ad Defoe played for England in their recent friendlies and England boss Roy Hodgson had previously told Frank Lampard that if he moved to MLS that he would not be considered for the England squad for next summer’s World Cup. I would have expected Defoe to arrive in MLS after the World Cup, but maybe the prospect of $32 million over four years was enough to get him to move early.
TFC manager Ryan Nelsen knows Defoe from his days at Tottenham and said this about the striker recently:
‘[He is] One of the most natural goalscorers I have ever come across. Always out training, always trying to score, a great guy.
‘To get a guy like Defoe for the MLS, I cannot think of many that are more suited. I think if you ask most Premier League teams, they would take Defoe.
‘It would be incredible. I call him and text him all the time. Him playing in Toronto would be phenomenal.
‘If you look around the world and try and think of a realistic player – and I am not sure how realistic he is – that complements a league like ours, never gets injured, doesn’t drink, can play high, low, scores all sorts of goals.’
Defoe is a proven goalscorer, scoring 200 goals in 499 games in the Premier League. MLS teams overall lack a cutting edge in front of goal, and having a top class striker can make the difference between winning trophies or not. See Robbie Keane and the LA Galaxy for an example of this.
But strikers need the ball in order to score, and that is an area that Toronto is lacking at the moment. It TFC is to get the best out of their investment in Defoe, they need to get a playmaker or two that can get him the ball.