Sunderland’s chances of fighting off relegation and remaining in the English Premier League were greatly enhanced on January 14 when it was announced they had bought striker Jermain Defoe from Toronto FC of Major League Soccer (MLS). Sunderland is listed on the bet365 soccer lines at 3/1 to be relegated this season. However, the addition of a natural goalscorer like Defoe could mean the difference between staying up and going down for the northeast club as long as he can stay healthy.
Defoe left Tottenham Hotspur last year and headed to Toronto after a fine Premier League career. The move meant he wasn’t selected for England’s World Cup team to compete in Brazil and his international days appeared to be over. But he’s hoping the move to Sunderland will result in a recall to the Three Lions in the near future. Several Premier League clubs were interested in the 32-year old forward, but the price of 14 million pounds may have put them off. It was also reported that American international forward Jozy Altidore would be headed to Toronto from Sunderland as a part of the deal.
Toronto is expected to use the cash to buy new players since they haven’t made the playoffs since entering MLS in 2007. Making the postseason is still unlikely though as the club is simply mismanaged at all levels. In fact, there’s not actually much difference between Sunderland and TFC and Defoe will quickly find that out. Sunderland has won just three times in 21 Premier League attempts this season and have seven losses and 11 draws. They simply draw too many games and don’t win enough and this hurts considering that two points are dropped with each tie game. The team is just one point above the relegation zone in 16th place.
Reports said Defoe will be paid 80,000 pounds ($145,000) per week in Sunderland and was being paid approximately the same at TFC. When Defoe scored for TFC last season the team went undefeated at 6-0-2, but he missed numerous games with injury. He finished the season with 11 goals in 13 games and leaves Toronto as the fifth-highest scorer in franchise history. His last goal for TFC came on July 16 and he then missed 12 of the club’s final 18 contests. TFC finished the season at 11-15-8 and out of the playoffs once again.
Defoe has played for Premier League teams such as Tottenham, West Ham, and Portsmouth and has a total of 226 goals in 531 career club games. He’s also chipped in with 19 more in 55 appearances with England. He’s coming off of groin surgery and Sunderland is hoping his goalscoring prowess will result in some points in the standings. If it doesn’t, the club may find itself in the second-tier English Championship League next season.