Transfer news: Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe confirms switch to Toronto FC, but England international could return for short loan spell
England international ends months of speculation over his future as he heads across the Atlantic to join the MLS franchise
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.
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