SUNDERLAND are hoping to confirm the capture of Jermain Defoe today after effectively sealing a straight swap deal with Jozy Altidore for the England striker.
Defoe passed a medical in the North East yesterday after agreeing to return to the Premier League with Sunderland, following a breakthrough in negotiations with MLS outfit Toronto FC late on Tuesday night.
The move is expected to be rubber-stamped today, in time for Defoe to feature against Spurs at White Hart Lane on Saturday – after the 32-year-old has ironically spent the past week training with his former club.
There have been indications emerging from Toronto that Sunderland are paying a £6million transfer fee for Defoe, while recouping a portion of that investment from the sale of Altidore to the MLS itself, who are then expected to franchise the Black Cats flop to the Canadian club.
However, the Echo now understands that Sunderland have not splashed out ANY extra money to land Defoe than they will receive for Altidore.
Sunderland have essentially just conducted an exchange of strikers, rather than a player-plus-cash deal.
The Black Cats have made a big investment on Defoe’s wages though, with the 55-time England international due to become the club’s highest earner.
The contract is thought to be markedly lower than the £80,000 per week which has been mentioned in some reports, but it is a measure of chairman Ellis Short’s continued support that Sunderland have beaten off competition from Crystal Palace, Hull and Leicester to land Defoe on a big-money deal.
Defoe only joined Toronto on a four-year contract 12 months ago, but he has been eager to return to the Premier League and was looking for a permanent move, rather than a loan switch.
Head coach Gus Poyet hopes he will provide the answer to Sunderland’s attacking woes, with the Black Cats netting just 18 goals in 21 Premier League outings so far this season.
Sunderland have also been able to remove Altidore’s wages from the books; ending the US international’s miserable 18-month spell at the Stadium of Light where he has netted just one Premier League goal.
Toronto have not bought Altidore outright, due to the franchise system in operation in the MLS.
The MLS itself will pay for Altidore’s transfer fee, before the league gives him to a club using an allocation process.
However, Toronto are ranked higher than both New York Red Bulls and Portland Timbers – the other interested parties for Altidore – in the allocation process and are confident that the 25-year-old will be playing for them when the MLS season gets underway in March.
Certainly, sources in Canada believe Toronto will have had some indication of Altidore’s arrival before sanctioning Defoe’s departure.
Altidore, the subject of loan interest from French side Lille and Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen, has started just two Premier League games for Sunderland this season and the Black Cats have been eager to offload him this month.