The protracted transfer sagas surrounding Toronto FC forward Jermain Defoe and Sunderland forward Jozy Altidore seem to finally be nearing an end, with the two players’ clubs reportedly working out a players-plus-cash swap deal in the end.
According to multiple reports out of the UK, Defoe will move to Sunderland and collect a massive payday — even larger than his monster deal with TFC — in doing so. After signing for the Major League Soccer club in January 2014, Defoe scored 11 goals in 19 league appearances for the Reds, but had reportedly grown very unhappy in Canada following, among other factors, the firing of head coach — and personal pal — Ryan Nelsen towards the end of the 2014 season.
Rumors of Defoe’s return to the Premier League have gobbled up headlines for months now. A source close to the deal has confirmed to PST that Sunderland’s move for Defoe has been completed.
According to TSN, to offset a portion of Defoe’s $129,000-per-week wages, Sunderland have agreed to send out-of-favor US men’s national team forward Altidore the other way, bringing to an end the American’s 18 months of struggles in the Premier League.
Rumors pointing to an MLS return for Altidore began weeks ago, but picked up considerably during the last two weeks. According to multiple reports, TFC, New York Red Bulls and Portland Timbers were all in the running to sign the 25-year-old, but TFC emerged as the favorite to match Altidore’s high salary demands while having the flexibility to move the wantaway Defoe in order to make room.
Altidore was drafted 17th overall by the MetroStars (now Red Bulls) in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft. The Newark, New Jersey, native spent two and a half seasons in MLS, scoring 15 goals in 37 league appearances before La Liga side Villarreal splashed $10 million to sign the then-18-year-old. While Altidore undoubtedly struggled in his second stint in England (one goal on loan to Hull City in 2009-10), he bagged 38 league goals (51 in all competitions) in two seasons for Eredivisie side AZ Alkmaar before moving to Sunderland.
Despite those struggles, Altidore’s signing is a major coup — if an expensive one — for MLS, as he joins American stars Michael Bradley (in Toronto), Clint Dempsey and Jermaine Jones as USMNT regulars to have all signed mega-bucks deals with MLS teams within the last 18 months.