Toronto FC boss admits QPR-linked Jermain Defoe no good to him unmotivated

Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney wants Jermain Defoe back in 2015 only if the striker is committed to the cause.

With Jermain Defoe recovering back in the UK from an operation on his nagging groin problem, Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney admits he doesn’t know if the 32-year-old will be coming back in 2015.

Arriving from Tottenham Hotspur at the start of 2014 to much fanfare, Defoe scored 11 times in his first 13 games for Toronto, but the lingering groin issue saw him make just five further goalless appearances from July onwards, as the club missed out on a first-ever playoff spot after a disastrous meltdown.

Widely reported to be angling for a return to the Premier League since Ryan Nelsen’s sacking as head coach in late-August, an article in the Globe and Mail claimed that the Englishman had sent a text to his former Spurs teammate hours after his departure with the ominous message: “If you’re gone, I’m gone.”

Back in England rehabbing at the time, a hectic transfer deadline soon followed, with the likes of Queens Park Rangers, Leicester, Newcastle and even Arsenal all reported to be chasing his signature.

General manager Tim Bezbatchenko admitted following the close of the window that the club had turned down a record bid for their £6 million marquee signing but, with talks over his future still on-going, few anticipate him being back at BMO Field in 2015.

The striker himself hinting at a potential departure, Vanney is still in the dark as to how things will unfold, but stresses that an unmotivated Defoe is no good to him.

“I’d like to have him back at the club and ready to compete and fight for the successes we are shooting for,” he told Sportsnet. “But that takes a highly concentrated and motivated Jermain Defoe, and we need to make sure that’s where he’s at.

“He just recently had the surgery that we all suspected was going to happen at some point. Our focus right now is getting him healthy, and we continue to have ongoing conversations about getting him back here, and what it would look like to get him back on our team.”

With QPR boss Harry Redknapp expressing his desire on several occasions already to reunite with Defoe following a failed summer move, a switch to Loftus Road remains the most plausible destination for the unsettled front man.

After a hot start in North America, there were high hopes for him becoming an MLS legend with TFC but, as the 55-times capped international has discovered, fans in Canada remain vexed over the perceived lack of commitment.

“There are a few fans that have said certain things and I’m like, ‘Well that’s a bit harsh,’ but obviously I would never retaliate,” he told reporters last month. “But at the same time, I think if you do want someone to stay at a football club, at least support them. At least show them that you want them to be here.”

At this stage, though, no one can blame Toronto fans for growing frustrated with Defoe, not least while fellow Designated Player signing and ex-Roma ace Michael Bradley continues to give his all for the team.

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch