Report: Toronto FC closing in on England striker Jermain Defoe, but hurdles remain

Jermain Defoe, Tottenham Hotspur, playing against West Ham, Oct 6, 2013

Photo Credit: 
Action Sports/Andrew Couldridge

The big-time acquisition that Toronto FC fans have been waiting on for months is edging closer to completion, according to a new SI.com report.

On Tuesday the outlet cited “a high-ranking Toronto FC source” who described the January transfer of Tottenham Hotspur striker Jermain Defoe to TFC as “not done yet, but close,” with Defoe's concerns about his place in England's World Cup team apparently the only major stumbling block to the deal.

At time of publication, Toronto FC had not yet responded to MLSsoccer.com's request for comment on the report.

SI.com said the Canadian club “has been pushing hard for Defoe” and remain interested in Italian star Alberto Gilardino, in addition to their recent signing of Brazilian forward Gilberto to a Designated Player deal.

Tuesday's report also noted the central influence of Tim Leiweke, president of TFC owners Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and the man who helped bring David Beckham to MLS during his stint in charge of the LA Galaxy's ownership group, in the hunt for Defoe.

But the speedy striker may still be convinced to stay in the English Premier League if he believes an MLS move would endanger his place in England manager Roy Hodgson's plans for Brazil 2014.

“It is Defoe’s desire to be part of England’s World Cup squad that has his January transfer destination still up in the air,” writes SI.com's Grant Wahl. “And might Defoe increase his World Cup chances by making a move to, say, West Ham, which reportedly has interest in him as well?”

Defoe, 31, has earned just three starts for Spurs thus far in league play this season, but has notched seven goals in five UEFA Europa League contests and netted two strikes in three League Cup games.