By CAITLIN MURRAY
Jermain Defoe may or may not want to stay with Toronto FC, but for now, the English striker is staying put in Major League Soccer.
After being linked to multiple English Premier League clubs, Defoe failed to make a transfer move on Monday as the European transfer deadline drew to a close.
Queens Park Rangers emerged as the team that came the closest to landing Defoe, but according to manager Harry Redknapp, TFC refused to part with the English striker in the thick of a playoff race.
TFC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko told media on Monday that Defoe wanted to stay with his Canadian MLS club, simply telling the press: “He’s committed.”
Redknapp’s account of events was different, as was that of QPR owner Tony Fernandes. Both put the blame on a failed move on TFC, with Redknapp going so far as to say his club and Defoe had agreed on a deal, only to have Toronto FC balk at selling their star forward.
Even as QPR was open about their interest in the English striker, Bezbatchenko declined to specify which clubs made offers, but said there were multiple bids.
“I want everyone to know there was a lot of money on the table,” Bezbatchenko said. “It’s a serious business but we have a commitment to our fans and we decided to turn it down.”
Speculation has already begun that Defoe will look to make a move again after the current MLS season ends.
With Monday’s transfer deadline sparking a flurry of moves, clubs rumored to be possible destinations for Defoe also included West Ham, Arsenal, Leicester City, Newcastle and Hull City. Defoe was reportedly offered to Arsenal, which wound up buying Danny Welbeck from Manchester United. Hull City also spent big to address their forward need, setting a new club transfer record to acquire Palermo forward Abel Hernandez.
QPR seems the most likely destination for Defoe, who would be reunited with Redknapp, who has a reputation for reuniting with former players. On Monday, Redknapp brought Sandro and Niko Kranjcar to QPR, having managed them both at Tottenham previously.
Defoe joined TFC in January on a four-year deal that was reportedly worth as much as £90,000 a week. He has 11 career goals and two assists in 16 games played for Toronto FC.
Defoe remains sidelined with a groin injury and has no set return date. He has missed four TFC games recently due to the injury.