Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has sought to quell rumours linking star man Jermain Defoe with a forthcoming return to England.
Arriving from Tottenham Hotspur at the start of 2014 to much fanfare, Defoe scored 11 goals in his first 13 games with the MLS club, but a nagging groin problem saw him make just five further appearances from July onwards, as the club missed out on a first-ever playoff spot in disastrous fashion.
Widely reported to be angling for a move back to the Premier League since Ryan Nelsen’s sacking as head coach in late-August, a hectic transfer deadline saga saw him jet back across the Atlantic admit reports of interest from the likes of Queens Park Rangers, Leicester, Newcastle and even Arsenal.
Bezbatchenko admitted at the time that the club had turned down a record bid for their £6 million marquee signing but, with the striker himself remaining mum on his future, most believe him to have made his final appearance in a TFC shirt.
Nevertheless, the Canadian side’s chief is ignoring the on-going speculation suggesting a winter transfer is imminent and is looking forward to positive talks with Defoe in the coming weeks.
‘He’s with Toronto FC and we’re having player meetings this week and next week and we’ll sit down with Jermain and figure out what he wants to do,’ he was quoted in the Toronto Sun.
‘We’ve said we don’t want players who don’t want to be here, but we haven’t heard that from Jermain yet.
‘He’s under contract with TFC. He proved he can score at a prolific rate in this league. He can be one of the best players, if not the best player in the league if he can stay healthy. Do we want a player on our team like that next year? Absolutely.’
Bezbatchenko admitted that there was some frustration over the summer transfer saga, which coincided with the club’s dramatic slump in form, but maintains that Defoe has been nothing but a perfect professional during his time at BMO Field.
‘Yeah, there’s frustration. Any time your team’s not getting the results you’re looking for, there’s frustration by players,’ he said. ‘But in terms of the professional environment, he gets along with everyone on the club.
‘I think he knows what direction this club is going. I think most people see it. I think we’re doing a lot of things right and I think the players see that as well.’