Tottenham have confirmed the sale of Jermain Defoe to Major League Soccer franchise Toronto FC, although the England international could remain with the north London side until the end of February before completing his move.
The club confirmed the news on their official Twitter account, ending months of speculation that the 31-year-old will cross the Atlantic in order to secure first team football and link-up with his former teammate Ryan Nelson, who is head coach at Toronto.
The post on Twitter read: "We have reached agreement with Toronto FC for the transfer of Jermain Defoe to the MLS side, with effect from February 28, 2014."
Speaking after the move, Defoe said: “Everybody knows how much this club means to me. I will play my heart out for the team and the fans until my last kick for the club.”
"I have had a fantastic time here and the fans have always been amazing to me," he told www.tottenhamhotspur.com.
"I am grateful for the opportunity for myself and my family to experience living overseas and for me to play in the MLS with a contract that will take me to the age of 35. I have no doubt I shall be coming back as a fan supporting the team in the years to come too."
Defoe will head to Canada with one eye on proceedings in South America later this year, although the move poses England manager Roy Hodgson his first problem of selecting a player plying his trade overseas.
The move will obviously deny Hodgson seeing Defoe on a regular basis unless he starts racking up the air miles, and the striker is the first to head abroad while still in international consideration since David Beckham was selected by Fabio Capello.
Having seen his chances limited to Europa League action and appearances from the bench under former manager Andre Villas-Boas, Defoe was then overtaken in the pecking order by a resurgent Emmanuel Adebayor as Tim Sherwood looked to address Spurs’ inconsistent form this season.
However, the writing appeared to be on the wall as reports as early as November claimed a deal had been reached with the MLS side for Defoe’s transfer – something Nelson denied as recent as yesterday when he claimed top four Premier League clubs were interested in the striker.
“This is a great opportunity for Jermain and he feels it is one that he wishes to pursue,” said Sherwood, who could now look to add a striker of his own with Adebayor and Roberto Soldado his current attacking options.
"He has played a big part in the club for many years and we all know he will give his best until his last minute in a Spurs shirt.
"We have several attacking options within our squad for the remaining dozen or so games of the season after Jermain departs and we shall keep our options under review. We also have a goal threat from players in other areas of the pitch including having wide players and attacking midfielders who will enable us to vary our shape when required."
Sherwood could also deploy summer signing Erik Lamela up-front, although he has suffered a difficult start to life at White Hart Lane and has been linked with a quick exit from the club.
The deal also includes an advertising agreement that will see club owners Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. Stoke, promote and sell Spurs merchandise in retail outlets and also give their backing to the THFC Official Canadian Supporter's Club.
Spurs will also face Toronto in a pre-season friendly during their 2014 summer tour on July 23, in-between fixtures against Seattle Sounders on July 19 and Chicago Fire on July 26.
Tottenham Hotspur - January transfer targets
Tottenham Hotspur - January transfer targets
1/18 Javier Hernandez - Spurs desperately need goals and who better than a proven Premier League goalscorer looking for somewhere he could be a first team regular. Seems a perfect match on paper but questions remain whether United would sell.
2/18 Paul-Georges Ntep - Not just a Tottenham target, the Auxerre youngster reportedly has admirers all over Europe, with Arsenal said to be particularly keen. Tottenham would surely love nothing more than pinching the striker from their north London rivals.
3/18 Fabian Schar - The Swiss defender is a reported target of several other big Premier League clubs. Can Spurs swoop first and reinforce their defence with the Basel centre-back?
4/18 Alexander Pato - Has hardly been that impressive since returning to Brazil after an injury plagued time in Milan but the forward is still reportedly on Tottenham's radar. They may face competition from Arsenal though if reports are to be believed.
5/18 Andrea Ranocchia - Seemingly January's most sought after player with several Premier League clubs chasing him, the towering centre-back would be a great buy for Spurs.
6/18 Kevin Volland - Hamburg's young winger is another name linked with several clubs this January, Tottenham appear well stocked in that position so a move seems slightly unlikely.
7/18 Domenico Criscito - Spurs are short of real talent at left back and certainly could do a lot worse than moving for the Italian international.
8/18 Christian Benteke - Has not been at his best this season but with better players around him he might improve. Could be the goalscorer that Spurs need but would not be cheap you expect.
9/18 Fabio Coentrao - With Tottenham needing a left back and Coentrao seemingly on the move this seems like a perfect move. Seems dependent on the Portuguese international not getting a better offer though. Real seem stubborn to sell though.
10/18 Alen Halilovic - The man dubbed the new Luka Modric was reportedly very close to a summer move to White Hart Lane that fell through at the last minute. Spurs could have another go at signing him this January.
11/18 Dimitar Berbatov - Seems an unlikely move, but stranger things have happened. The former Spurs man looks set to leave Fulham but would like to stay in England. Could he be coming home to Spurs?
12/18 Giuseppe Rossi - After a long injury lay off, the Italian forward is back and could be just the goalscorer Spurs need. Has unfinished business in England after beginning his career at Man United.
13/18 Mirko Vucinic - The Juventus man has been mooted as a possible loan signing for Spurs as they look to find someone to score some goals for them.
14/18 Miralem Pjanic - Pjanic on the streets of London? The rumour is that could soon be the case with Spurs said to be interested in signing Roma's in form midfielder.
15/18 Ezequiel Lavezzi - Devastating at Napoli, the Argentine has struggled more since joining PSG and could be on his way out. Not quite the sort of player Spurs need, but does score goals from out wide.
16/18 Demba Ba - If as predicted Chelsea sign a striker in January then Ba could be available on loan. Would provide a useful back up striker for Spurs.
17/18 Bruno Martins Indi - Can play at left back or centre-back and has reportedly been a long term target of Tottenham's. The 21-year-old is valued at around £5.5m
18/18 Jamaal Lascelles - Nottingham Forrest's highly rated England U21 defender has attracted attention from several Premier League clubs reportedly. Not the man to instantly solve Spurs' problems but certainly one for the future.
Nottingham Forest youngster Jamaal Lascelles
- More about:
- Andre Villas-Boas
- Emmanuel Adebayor
- Jermain Defoe
- Premier League
- Tottenham Hotspur