After weeks of speculation, Tottenham Hotspur officially announced on Friday morning the transfer of Jermain Defoe to Toronto FC for a fee reportedly in excess of $10 million.
Signing a four-year contract with the MLS club, the England intentional striker will be formally unveiled on Monday, before officially completing his move on February 28, two weeks prior to TFC’s first game of the 2014 MLS season at the Seattle Sounders.
As part of the deal for the 31-year-old, the two clubs have also agreed to set up a friendly match on July 23 at BMO Field. It will be the second of Tottenham’s scheduled three-game North American tour this coming summer.
The Defoe news comes just a day after TFC also officially announced the return of MLS legend Dwayne De Rosario to the club after a three-year absence, as well as AS Roma confirming that U.S. intentional midfielder Michael Bradley had completed a $10 million transfer to the Canadian side.
The three deals highlight a roller-coaster few days for the Toronto front office, during an offseason in which Tim Leiweke (president and CEO of the club’s ownership group, MLSE) and new general manager Tim Bezbatchenko have seemingly pulled out all the stops to try to turn around the struggling franchise.
In addition, the club also added Brazilian striker Gilberto from Portuguesa in December as a designated player, as well as pulling off trades for FC Dallas midfielder Jackson and San Jose Earthquakes defender Justin Morrow.
Having failed to make the playoffs since entering the league in 2007, TFC now appear to have assembled an MLS Cup-contending roster, and will enter the 2014 season with one of their strongest sides in club history.
Evidently, after the shock return of Clint Dempsey to the league last summer, the deals for Defoe and Bradley also further signal MLS’ growing strength and popularity, with big-name signings at the peak of their career no longer such a rarity.
Entering its 18-year of existence, with moves like this MLS has made a statement that it’s no longer the retirement home for old, broken down stars it was once viewed as. Clearly this is a league which needs to be taken seriously by the rest of the world.
(Photo: Paul Blank)