It is official. Jermain Defoe will be leading the line for Toronto FC.
The ever-busy Reds announced the acquisition of the Tottenham striker as a Designated Player on Friday, with Defoe set to join TFC on Feb. 28, two weeks before the club's opening game of the MLS season (Toronto drew the honor of being on bye during the first week of the 2014 campaign).
“We are thrilled, for our club and for our fans, with the opportunity to bring a global football superstar like Jermain Defoe to Toronto FC,” Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Tim Leiweke said in a team statement. “We promised our fans in October that building a winning club was our top priority and we scoured the globe to find the right players to fulfill that promise.
"Right from the beginning of this process, Jermain Defoe was the top player on our list and we got our man. We would like to thank Tottenham as well as MLSE ownership for this very clear demonstration of our commitment to winning. Most importantly, we want to thank Toronto FC fans for their patience and support getting to this day.”
While Toronto FC did not reveal the details of Defoe's contract, Defoe made reference to him signing "a contract to the age of 35" in a Tottenham statement, meaning the 31-year-old is signed to a four-year pact. He'll be introduced at a Monday press conference -- potentially along with U.S. international midfielder Michael Bradley -- before returning to White Hart Lane for another six weeks.
As part of the deal, Toronto FC and Tottenham will play a friendly this summer on July 23 during Tottenham's summer U.S. tour (games against the Seattle Sounders and Chicago Fire are already on the docket). Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment will also sell Tottenham merchandise at its retail outlets in part of an advertising partnership. As for Defoe, he will have major expectations to fulfill in Toronto. He is currently out of favor with new Spurs manager Tim Sherwood, though he has done plenty of damage in the UEFA Europa League, scoring seven goals in five matches. Tottenham has nine more games -- including two Europa League games -- before Defoe is slated to join TFC.