Toronto chief admits preparations made for QPR-linked Defoe's potential departure

A plan is already in place in the event of Jermain Defoe's departure, says Toronto FC president and CEO Tim Leiweke, but the club still hopes the striker will return to MLS.

Toronto FC president and CEO Tim Leiweke has admitted that the club have made preparations for Jermain Defoe’s potential departure by lining up a replacement Designated Player, but he still hopes the striker will opt to remain in MLS.

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.

General manager Tim 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 plans, most believe him to have made his final appearance in a TFC shirt.

Despite claims that QPR have an £8 million, £90,000 per-week agreement in place, Leiweke stresses that no decision has been made on Defoe’s future at this point, but the man who helped bring David Beckham to the USA in 2007 wants him to make up his mind sooner rather than later.

‘Jermain needs to decide if he wants to be here. If he does, then I think he's one of the great strikers in MLS,’ he told the Canadian press.

‘If he does not, then that situation is ours to ultimately decide — not his — because we own his contract. We're not going to give him away. And so we're in a good spot.

‘The one thing I can promise our fans — one way or another, this will end well for TFC. I guarantee it.

'We know where we are going. If we have a DP [Designated {layer] slot open, we already know who we're going after,’ he added. ‘And I am 100 per cent convinced we're going to be a better team on the pitch next year — without a lot of changes.

‘And I think Jermain is one of the better strikers in the world of football. And if he wants to be here and he's focused on being a part of this organization, then we saw what he can do. And there's no question how good Jermain Defoe is.’

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