English clubs line up for Jermain Defoe in wake of latest Toronto FC upheaval

TORONTO – English clubs are reportedly lining up to sign unsettled Toronto FC striker Jermain Defoe.

The Daily Telegraph reports Arsenal has joined the Premier League suitors to sign Defoe, possibly on loan. The Gunners need a replacement for the injured Olivier Giroud.

The Telegraph says Queens Park Rangers remain the favourites to sign the 31-year-old Defoe, with Newcastle, Hull City and Leicester City all interested.

The price-tag for Defoe? English papers cite a figure of around seven million pounds (C$12.6 million).

The transfer window closes later today.

Toronto FC general manager Tim Bezbatchenko confirmed Sunday that the MLS club has received an offer on Defoe but said he hoped to retain him.

The team denied that the 31-year-old English striker is an anxious to leave but a source told The Canadian Press that Defoe, fed up with the turmoil at the club, wants out.

Toronto fired manager Ryan Nelsen and five members of his coaching staff Sunday. And MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke, the man who brought Defoe to MLS, has announced he plans to leave.

Leiweke also denied that Defoe had asked to quit the club, saying while the team had received offers for their star forward, it had not bitten on any. He did not rule out a possible move on deadline day, however.

The Telegraph says Defoe has been told by Toronto he can leave on loan until January and then try to arrange a permanent move.

A move to London’s QPR, meanwhile, would reunite Defoe with manager Redknapp. The two worked previously together at Tottenham and Portsmouth.

The Daily Mail, Mirror, Guardian and Independent also link Defoe to London and QPR. Redknapp is looking for a replacement for Loic Remy after losing the French striker to Chelsea.

But Sky Sports, citing sources, say a move to join Redknapp at QPR is unlikely. Liverpool striker Fabio Borini is seen as another option for Redknapp.

Defoe signed with Toronto in January in what the MLS side billed as a “bloody big deal.” When healthy, he has proved he can be a predator in the North American league with 11 goals in 16 games but is currently sidelined with a groin injury.

Losing Defoe so quickly would be an embarrassment for both Toronto and Major League Soccer.

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