Jermain Defoe has officially joined Major League Soccer franchise Toronto F.C. Tottenham Hotspur tweeted confirmation of the deal this morning from their official Twitter account. Defoe is set to join Toronto in a four year deal beginning February 28, 2014, which gives him another month and a half as a Tottenham player.
We have reached agreement with Toronto FC for the transfer of Jermain Defoe to the MLS side, with effect from February 28, 2014
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) January 10, 2014
While exact details of the transfer have not been released by the club, BBC Sport is reporting the deal is worth £6m, and unconfirmed reports say that Defoe will be the highest-paid player in MLS. Defoe joins the club along with American midfield general Michael Bradley, who is also joining Toronto from Roma, and these moves will significantly help Toronto become a force in Major League Soccer. Defoe will also reunite with former teammate Ryan Nelsen, who is now the Toronto FC manager.
For Defoe, joining Toronto is ostensibly about playing time ahead of this summer's World Cup, but is likely also just as much about a fat paycheck and the challenge of playing in a new country at the tail end of his career. For his part, it doesn't appear as though this is a bridge-burning move on Defoe's part. Jermain had wonderful things to say about the club and his time wearing lilywhite:
"Everybody knows how much this Club means to me and 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...
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."
In addition to the transfer fee, Tottenham and Toronto will also play a preseason friendly match on July 23, 2014 in Toronto as part of Spurs' summer tour through the USA. Spurs have also reported preseason matches in Seattle against the Sounders on July 19 and in Chicago against the Chicago Fire on July 26. Spurs also reached an Advertising Rights Agreement with Toronto owners Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. which will help Spurs continue to expand their brand into North America.
It's not goodbye, Jermain, it's "we'll see ya later, eh."