Altidore joins Toronto FC from Sunderland in swap deal with Defoe
Toronto FC have completed the signing of Jozy Altidore from Sunderland with Jermain Defoe heading in the opposite direction.
Altidore, who joined the club from AZ Alkmaar during the summer of 2013, managed just three goals in 52 appearances in all competitions, and only one in 42 in the league.
However, Toronto are willing to match the former Villarreal striker’s wage demands which paved the way for his return to MLS.
Altidore joins Toronto as a Designated Player, but as part of the deal terms were not revealed.
Toronto FC General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko said: "Our top priority is building a winning club with players that are committed to the TFC vision. Jozy is a special player, and checks off all of the boxes that we look for in a player.
"We are excited to finalize this deal and bring him to Toronto FC.
"It became clear that a return for Jermain to the English Premier League was going to be in the best interests of both sides. We’d like to thank Jermain for his contributions to Toronto FC and wish him well."
Tim Leiweke, President and CEO of MLSE, defended the decision to allow Defoe to return to the Premier League and believes Altidore will prove to be an astute signing for the Canadian club.
— Toronto FC (@torontofc) January 16, 2015
Leiweke said: "Our vision over the past 18 months has been to establish Toronto FC’s international presence, and while just with us for one year, Jermain Defoe played an important role in helping us achieve that goal.
"We appreciate the fact that he worked very closely with us through this process, and while he had a number of options, he ultimately agreed to a deal that would be in the best interests of both the player and TFC. He wanted to ensure that TFC and its fans will benefit from this transfer, and we have. Jozy has chosen to return to MLS, and adding a player of Jozy Altidore’s pedigree is an important addition for our club."
In England, Black Cats boss Gus Poyet added: "I would like to thank Jozy as his begins his career at his new club. It is a fresh start for him and we wish him well."
Former Tottenham frontman Defoe, 32, signed a three-and-a-half-year deal with Sunderland and he is looking forward to the next stage of his career.
Defoe said: "I am delighted to be here and I’m looking forward to the challenge. It is a great club and I’ve always enjoyed coming up here and playing against Sunderland because of the stadium and the supporters. It is a great place to play and I’m really looking forward to it."
The move sees Defoe return to the Barclays Premier League after seeing out just 11 months of a four-year contract with MLS side Toronto.
— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) January 16, 2015
He could go straight into the squad for Saturday’s trip to Spurs with head coach and former team-mate Gus Poyet is delighted to have secured the kind of firepower his side has been so sadly lacking to date this season.
Sunderland have scored just 18 goals in 21 league fixtures with £6.6million signing Altidore having contributed none of them, and Poyet will hope a man who managed 11 goals in 16 appearances for the Canadian side will help to address that failing.
He said: "I am thrilled that Jermain is a Sunderland player. I know all about his attributes and his qualities first-hand and his exceptional goal-scoring record speaks for itself. He has something different, something special.
"We know each other very well – he was very young when we played together and I was coming to the end of my career, so I know him from inside the pitch.
"When I returned to Spurs as a coach, it was a great experience for me to work with him, so I am really looking forward to having him as my player now and for him to be part of our team.
"I would also like to thank Jozy as his begins his career at his new club. It is a fresh start for him and we wish him well."
The Black Cats managed to beat off competition from a series of Barclays Premier League rivals, including Crystal Palace and QPR, to acquire Defoe’s services, and sporting director Lee Congerton was thrilled to see his hard work finally come to fruition.
Congerton said: "Jermain is a player who has proven his quality in the Premier League. Naturally, with a player of his calibre, there was a lot of interest in him, not only in England but across Europe, so we are delighted that he has chosen to come to Sunderland."