With Jermain Defoe looking set to return to England this month after just one season in MLS, a host of Premier League clubs have been linked to the striker’s signature in recent weeks.
However, having long-been considered the front-runners for his services after a failed summer bid, Queens Park Rangers now look set to miss out on the former Tottenham Hotspur man due to financial restraints, while Hull manager Steve Bruce has also acknowledged similar problems in a potential approach.
With Leicester also addressing their goalscoring issues with the imminent signing of Chelsea target Andrej Kramaric, that would seem to leave fellow pursuers Liverpool as a conceivable destination, with the Anfield outfit one of few teams able to afford his reported £60,000-per-week wage demands.
The Reds’ problems up top have been well documented this term in the wake of Luis Suarez’s summer departure, having netted just 28 goals in 20 league games, compared to the 46 scored at the same stage last season.
With Daniel Sturridge sidelined since August with successive thigh injuries, and Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and Fabio Borini combining for just one top-flight strike between them, Brendan Rodgers needs to add firepower to his squad this winter in a bid to climb up the table and Defoe is one name who has been touted as a solid option.
Nevertheless, despite a commendable Premier League strike-rate of 125 goals in 381 total appearances, one should be sceptical about whether the unsettled Toronto FC forward is the man for the job.
Arriving from Spurs at the start of 2014 to much fanfare, Defoe scored 11 times in his first 13 games for TFC, but a nagging groin issue saw him make just five further goalless appearances from July onwards, as the Canadian club missed out on a first-ever playoff spot after a disastrous meltdown over the final few months of the campaign.
Now aged 32, one would place good odds on his recent fitness problems worsening from this point on, while it’s also worth noting that his goals in Toronto masked what were otherwise wasteful and often uninspiring performances, with teammate Gilberto looking like the more dangerous option up top.
Producing back in English football will not be as straightforward against more formidable defences, while some are also quick to forget that the he scored just once in 14 league appearances during his last season with Spurs.
With North American reports also suggesting that Toronto are demanding a much bigger fee than the £6 million reported in the British press, it’s worth wondering whether the cash might be better spent elsewhere.
Of course, choices on the market are limited during the mid-season transfer window, with £20 million-rated Saido Berahino looking like the main alternative at this point, and options such as Gonzalo Higuain, Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi looking unrealistic.
In that sense, some might argue that Defoe is a gamble worth taking if Liverpool have ambition of earning a Champions League spot this season, but there’s also a genuine risk of a sizeable transfer sum being flushed down the drain on a declining talent.
Signing the ex-England international would be a sure sign of desperation on Rodgers’ part but, given their current league position compared to 2013-14, it could be a move the club are resigned to making.