Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY Sports
By RYAN TOLMICH
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president and CEO Tim Leiweke insists that Toronto FC forward Jermain Defoe is focused on short-term goals while leaving the door open for a long-term change.
Leiweke stated Wednesday at the Sport Business Summit in London that the English forward is focused on leading the team to the MLS playoffs. However, Leiweke did leave the door open for a potential January departure, as the two sides will meet to discuss Defoe’s future at the conclusion of the MLS season.
“There is no deal, no conversation, not even a thought right now,” Leiweke said Wednesday at the Leaders in Sport conference in London. “Jermain understands the uniqueness of Major League Soccer, we have playoffs. That’s the defining moment on the success of our clubs. Making the playoffs would be a huge step forward (for Toronto).”
“Jermain now gets that and is totally focused on that, As to what happens during the next transfer window, we’ve all agreed we’ll put it on hold and talk about that in December. I compliment Jermain for being committed to trying to get us to the playoffs and making that the only concern that we have right now.”
As the summer transfer deadline approached, Defoe reportedly was angling for a move back to England, with Queens Park Rangers publicly stating their interest in Defoe. There were also reports in Canada that Defoe was ready to leave the club after Ryan Nelsen was removed from his job on Aug. 31.
On the day the transfer window closed, Sept. 1, TFC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko revealed that the club had turned down a record transfer fee to keep Defoe through the playoff run.
Defoe joined Toronto FC in January after spending the previous six years with Tottenham. The 32-year-old striker is expected to feature in this weekend’s matchup with the Houston Dynamo after having previously played in just two of his side’s 11 games due to injury.
What do you make of Leiweke’s statements? Do you believe Defoe will remain with TFC heading into next season?
Share your thoughts below.