Designated Player search update: Samaras, Defoe, and Eto'o

Richard Heathcote

Toronto FC seem to be working towards deals for up to 5 different potential Designated Players. It remains to be seen which deals will actually cross the finish line but in recent days there have been updates on three of those potential designated players

The January transfer window is slowly approaching which means that rumour mills all over the World are starting to pick up steam.  With that in mind it is no surprise that we have gotten a number of updates in recent days about players who are potential targets for Toronto FC's two vacant designated player slots.  It now seems that the club are working towards deals with as many as five potential new DPs with Jermain Defoe, Samuel Eto'o, Georgios Samaras, Gilberto, and Alberto Gilardino all being in the mix.  It remains to be seen which two of the five the club has the most interest in and which deals they will actually be able to complete but the closer we get to January the closer we get to find out the answer to those questions.

The first transfer update comes out of Scotland where Celtic forward Samaras is now being heavily linked to a potential MLS move.  The Scotsman are reporting that TFC are set to make a January swoop for the Greek international who is out of contract at Celtic Park come the end of the season.  With Samaras being able to negotiate freely with clubs come January his name is being linked to a wide variety of potential destinations but he still seems open to signing a new deal that would keep him with Celtic.  If Celtic do want to keep him they will want to get a deal done to extend his contract before January 1st when he might be tempted by big money offers from clubs like Toronto FC.

Samaras would be an interesting fit if he were to come to Toronto.  He would have a massive appeal with the large Greek community in Toronto and at 28-years-old he has plenty left to offer.  The question is whether or not he is worth the big money that it would take to secure his services.  Samaras scores at a rate around 1 goal for every 3 appearances in the SPL which is not exactly lighting the league on fire but is a solid return.  A similar return in MLS would probably not be enough from a DP as you would like to see them scoring 15+ goals rather than 10-12 over the course of a full season.  Of the targets being heavily linked to TFC he seems to be the least intriguing even with age on his side.

The second update is not really news as it was already quite obvious that Tottenham Hotspur where not going to leave themselves short handed by selling Defoe in January.  With that said, the Evening Standard is reporting that the only way Spurs will sell Defoe to anyone, TFC included, is if they can secure a replacement for him.  In recent weeks Defoe has made his way into the team on a more regular basis and Villas-Boas seems wary to giving up the one player on the team who actually seems to be scoring goals this year.

If the potential transfer is delayed by a few weeks to allow Spurs to make a signing first it would not be a big blow for TFC as the season does not open until March.  It could help to dissuade some other suitors like West Ham United though which would be good news for TFC's interests in the player.

The final update from recent days in concerning Samuel Eto'o.  The Cameroonian international seems to be inching closer to move to MLS in the summer months but according to a report in the Telegraph his preference is to move south of the border and not to Canada.  The report mentions that Toronto FC have made an £8 million-a-year offer to the player which he is not interested in.  That offer seems odd as it would likely have to be on a pre-contract which cannot be negotiated until January so any such offer would have meant first reaching an agreement with Chelsea on a possible transfer.

The report falls apart towards the end though when it seems to be linking Eto'o to MLS clubs at random as they just go with the clubs they believe to be the richest.  LA Galaxy, Chicago Fire, Seattle Sounders and DC United are the potential destinations that they suggest which seems odd as they leave up the likes of New York Red Bulls and even New York City FC to include Chicago and DC who have very little history of big spending.

Based on these recent reports it does not seem like the picture has changed much.  Eto'o was always one of the weaker links with Defoe and Gilardino leading the way.  If the other slot is going to be filled by someone younger who still has potential to be an impact player for a long time it seems that will be between Gilberto and Samaras.

News of which players TFC will be signing to DP contracts should arrive in the coming weeks but until then expect the rumour mills to keep on swirling and as long as TFC have those spots open and are waving the money around it should lead to a lot of big name players being linked to the club so if a new player suddenly pops up out of nowhere it would probably be wise to take it with a grain of salt as TFC started working on their targets months ago and by now all the names seem to have leaked out.

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