Jermain Defoe is ending all chances of getting in the England World Cup squad with his move to MLS team Toronto FC from Tottenham.
The 31-year-old has obviously been involved with Roy Hodgson’s plans ever since Euro 2012, as England’s back-up, alternative and experienced attacking option. But this switch away from Europe and the Premier League ends any hope of a spot on the plane to Brazil 2014.
Hodgson has hinted in the past that those competing in the MLS are likely to find it a real struggle to get near his squad and Defoe will be a prime example of that.
Defoe must be thinking long term, with game time and personal plans in mind, rather than the desire to compete at another World Cup. He stated just earlier last year that he was dreaming of a plane to Brazil 2014, but this move to Toronto suggests otherwise.
The quality of MLS soccer is improving rapidly, with moves like Defoe raising the talent level. But it is still a huge distance of the top European Leagues and that is one of the main reasons Defoe will be ignored for the England squad this summer.
Hodgson is almost certain to pick a younger player with potential, then a player he won’t see in the flesh after February this year. It will be interesting to see if Defoe gets a look in for the England friendly vs. Denmark in March, just days after his move to Toronto is completed. But I suspect it will be the end of an international career full of relative highs and lows.
It is a mistake in my book from Defoe. For footballing reasons it is strange. He could have moved to a Premier League away from Spurs, such as West Ham, Hull City or Sunderland. There he would have gotten a far higher chance of consistent game time than at Spurs and had a real shot at another World Cup. But without that competitive Premier League season, it will mean Hodgson will merely see Defoe as an outcast now. Someone who is running simply towards the end of their career, and not even close to a level he deems as high enough for a place at the World Cup. However, it is great news for the MLS.