There were a couple of uncomfortable moments at Toronto FC's season ending press conference, but easily the most uncomfortable was each player being asked about their relationship with Jermain Defoe, and whether or not they thought he would return to the club next season. Media training dictated that he was all of their best friends and mentors and that absolutely he would be returning next season.
Almost as they were saying this, rumours continued to fly that Defoe would be leaving the club in the January transfer window, talk which started almost the instant he set foot in Toronto. He half denied these rumours, saying in his heart that he never was going to leave Toronto, but they persisted. Today, the latest set of those rumours have been released by the London Evening Standard.
What's different about today's revelations? The precision. The Standard is reporting that Queen's Park Rangers, the favourite to acquire Defoe all along, is confident that he will sign a 90,000 pounds a week deal for three years during the January transfer window.
Obviously, there are always questions about the validity of these types of reports, rumours tend to be reported as fact rampantly in the British press. But the Standard tends to be fairly decent in terms of reporting on London based team. QPR is a London based team.
The Standard also reinforced the idea that Defoe's distress with Toronto FC had to do with the fact that the man who allegedly brought the Englishman to the club, Ryan Nelsen, had been fired. It makes sense, as the Defoe rumours truly surfaced on the same day as Nelsen was sacked by the club.
Another reported frustration from Defoe is the fact that he felt moving to MLS held him back from playing for England at the World Cup, something that obviously meant a lot to him. He probably wouldn't have made the team if he stayed in Tottenham either, but it's probably difficult for him to see it that way.
From the Toronto side of things, and from Defoe himself, there have been tones of denials about these rumours. But where there is smoke, especially this much continual smoke, there is almost certainly fire. Defoe will almost certainly be leaving this club in January, whether under the terms above or otherwise remains to be seen.
With this likely being the case, it might be a good idea for Toronto to stop denying that these transfer talks are taking place. At this point it's not worth protecting a player whose actions have demonstrated that his heart was never in Canada. It's probably better just to be silent on the topic, and close the book on yet another disappointing chapter of Toronto FC's history.
If Redknapp really wants him this badly, he can have him. It's not that Defoe has done something for this club, he absolutely has. The team was 7-2-0 when he scored, and likely would have gotten a lot closer to the playoffs if he stayed healthy. At this point, though, he is too much of a cancer to stay around.
There will be nothing official until January, but at this point there is only one conceivable ending to this scenario. It isn't Defoe returning to open arms.