Ryan Nelsen confirms Toronto FC’s interest in Jermain Defoe, good fit for MLS?

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Rumors surrounding the future of Tottenham Hotspur and England striker Jermain Defoe have been rife over the past few days, and these comments from Toronto FC manager Ryan Nelsen are likely to fuel the fire further.

Nelsen, who played alongside Defoe at Tottenham during a brief stint toward the end of his playing days, knows exactly what Defoe can do and admitted he’d love to bring the 31-year-old striker, who’s out of favor at Spurs, to BMO Field.

“That’s not a serious question, is it?” Nelsen said when asked on TSN about bringing in Defoe. “Jermain Defoe in this league? Look what [Marco] Di Vaio has done! My goodness – incredible player.”

And he’s right, can you really think of a player better suited to Major League Soccer than Defoe?

The pint-sized striker, who has scored 141 goals in 353 games for Spurs over two spells in his career, has only started one PL game this season and had been reduced to appearances in the Europa League and League Cup where he has scored eight goals in five games. An incredible ratio.

(MORE: ProSoccerTalk’s MLS playoffs picks and predictions)

His predatory instincts, as similar big name foreign imports like Marco Di Vaio and Robbie Keane have shown, would be perfect in MLS as he sniffs for openings in and around the box and hammers shots on target from every possible angle.

But Andre Villas-Boas doesn’t seem to think Defoe can be a starter in the PL for Spurs, something Nelsen clearly doesn’t agree with.

“One of the most natural goalscorers I have ever come across,” Nelsen said. “Always out training, always trying to score, a great guy. To get a guy like Defoe for the MLS, I cannot think of many that are more suited. I think if you ask most Premier League teams, they would take Defoe.”

source: Getty Images
Jermain Defoe keeps scoring in the Europa League and League Cup, but isn’t get a chance to shine in the PL. Does an MLS move beckon for the England international?

But would Defoe even contemplate joining Toronto and MLS ahead of what could be his last World Cup for England this summer?

You can look at it two ways. He could go out on loan in January and struggle to establish himself elsewhere in the PL, or he could come to MLS and begin play in March, play regularly right up until the World Cup and declare himself fighting fit, in form and hungry to succeed for Roy Hodgson’s England side in Brazil. The latter seems like the better idea, but maybe it’s too big of a gamble to take, especially as Hodgson seems somewhat lukewarm towards the pleasures of MLS.

(MORE: MLS Playoff focus – Notes on Seattle ahead of Colorado match)

But Nelsen revealed that he keeps in touch with Defoe, and would love to bring him to MLS. Then again, which MLS side wouldn’t want him?

“It would be incredible,” Nelsen said. “I call him and text him all the time. Him playing in Toronto would be phenomenal. If you look around the world and try and think of a realistic player – and I am not sure how realistic he is – that complements a league like ours, never gets injured, doesn’t drink, can play high, low, scores all sorts of goals – do you know something I don’t? Can you go over and sell it to him?”

Not sure where this one ranks on the likelihood scale, but having Defoe in MLS would be divine.

Pardew laments firing, credits Palace turnaround to new players

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Alan Pardew knows why Crystal Palace was failing when he got fired, knows he could’ve fixed it, and seems pretty bummed he’s not there any more.

Pardew emerged to make the comments after Sam Allardyce helmed another upset win for Palace, a 2-1 win over Liverpool which joins defeats of Arsenal and Chelsea.

The win moves Palace 12th, and the Eagles have a legitimate shot at a top-half finish despite their poor start to the season. But Pardew wants fans to know it was about a personnel mistake, and that Palace dropped into the relegation zone after he was fired.

[ PL PREVIEW: Chelsea vs. Southampton ]

The Northeast Chronicle says Pardew aimed to bring former Newcastle left backs Davide Santon and Paul Dummett to Palace, but couldn’t get the moves over the line. Then Pape Souare was hurt in a car accident and Palace was in trouble.

Over to you, Pards (From the Chronicle’s Lee Ryder):

“We were kicking ourselves not to have any left-footed cover. We were playing right-footed players there and things were exploiting that situation. We became one dimensional.

“I was really disappointed I didn’t get to the window because Sam Allardyce followed me and the results didn’t really improve until the new players got bedded in and they made a big difference.”

Allardyce brought in Patrick Van Aanholt from Sunderland and Jeff Schlupp from Leicester to shore up the left side.

The story is made more amusing by the fact that Allardyce has not hesitated to make Palace’s return to form almost exclusively about his influence, while Pardew bleeds the very same blood.

Who’s on first?

Atletico Madrid at CAS to fight FIFA transfer ban

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) Atletico Madrid officials are at sport’s highest court to appeal against a FIFA transfer ban that will prevent the club from signing youth players from overseas during the coming offseason.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport is hearing the appeal Monday, but says a verdict is not expected immediately.

Atletico and FIFA previously agreed to seek a CAS verdict by June, before the summer trading period opens.

[ MORE: Griezmann’s advisor speaks on future ]

FIFA imposed a one-year ban on registering new players as punishment for Atletico breaking rules introduced to prevent child trafficking and luring youngsters from their home country.

Atletico denies wrongdoing, though it agreed not to sign players in January while its appeal went ahead.

Spain’s soccer federation has been criticized for its role in player registrations, with Barcelona and Real Madrid also having served FIFA transfer bans.

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Southampton

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  • Chelsea won 2-0 on Oct. 30
  • Saints won fixture 3-1 last season
  • Chelsea 13W-2L at home this season
  • Blues lead all-time 40W-28D-28L

Chelsea aims to stack some wins following a momentum-restoring weekend win when Southampton visits Stamford Bridge on Tuesday (Watch live at 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The Blues have lost two of four inside the Premier League — home to Crystal Palace and at Manchester United — but beat Spurs 4-2 in a thrilling FA Cup semifinal this weekend, extending their season to a May 27 final against Arsenal.

Saints are coming off their first loss in four outings, a 3-0 home beatdown at the hands of Manchester City. Now to the road, where Southampton has the eighth-best record in the Premier League. And Saints boast Manolo Gabbiadini, who Chelsea boss Antonio Conte says has one of the world’s best left foots.

What they’re saying

Chelsea’s David Luiz on Antonio Conte“He’s a fantastic person before a fantastic manager, so we talk a lot, every day, because we have a great relationship,’ he explained. We try to give our best for our club and he tries to help me with his intelligence for football to improve my football so I am very happy to work with him. He did an amazing job in this game.”

Southampton’s Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg on facing Chelsea“Of course, you say every game is important, but somehow, when you play against number one, it gets a little bit more important. I saw the game they lost against Manchester United, and now they are a little bit under pressure, and we also want to continue getting good results. Chelsea away is, of course, maybe the toughest game this year, but I think that we have the possibility to get the result.”

Prediction

Rested Southampton provides a real test, but one which Chelsea finds a way to pass thanks to a relatively rested Costa and Hazard. This is Costa’s day, with a brace in a 2-1 win.

Griezmann’s advisor namechecks Man Utd, 4 others

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Antoine Griezmann has maintained a desire to stay at Atletico Madrid, but his advisor says the French striker has five realistic destinations for next season if he doesn’t stay at the Vicente Calderon.

Speaking on the French outlet Telefoot, advisor Eric Olhats says the 26-year-old Griezmann is limited by his $109 million release clause.

[ MORE: Zlatan’s comeback vow; Mata close ]

Griezmann has 25 goals and 11 assists this season, slightly lighter on the goals and a step up in helpers with Atleti alive in two competitions this season. He’s still played centrally and wide right, and Yannick Carrasco is starring on the left.

From Sky Sports:

“There is an unavoidable 100m clause so that restricts the number of candidates. You have United, City, Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

“United were the first to come and see us and the most concrete in their wishes.”

Griezmann to the Premier League is a move many would love to see, or at least a new challenge for the fantastic attacker. With respect to Barcelona and Real Madrid, we’ve seen plenty of top La Liga talents move within the division.

Of course, there would be something special to both Diego Simeone and Griezmann winning the UEFA Champions League and defending it at Atleti. Something tells us their fate in this year’s semifinal against Real Madrid may tip the scales for both men, or at least Griezmann.