sport

Toronto hoping to keep Defoe

Jermain Defoe came close to returning to England on deadline day, but Toronto FC are hoping to keep him long-term.

The England international only agreed a move to the MLS in January, making his bow in March after bringing to an end a successful second spell at Tottenham Hotspur.

Despite spending just five months in the United States, it was suggested on Monday that a Premier League homecoming was on the cards prior to the 11pm deadline.

Leicester City were heavily linked with the 31-year-old frontman, while Queens Park Rangers were leading the chase for long periods.

No transfer was pushed through, though, with Harry Redknapp telling Sky Sports: "Jermain wanted to come. We were hoping to get him. We agreed a deal with Toronto but it was difficult for them to release him."

A second approach in January is already being mooted, with QPR owner Tony Fernandes admitting that Defoe remains in their thoughts.

Toronto are expecting fresh interest in the New Year, with MLS players often heading to Europe on loan during the off-season, but they remain confident that no permanent switch will be sanctioned.

"In the off-season people will make offers, they always do," said general manager Tim Bezbatchenko, while reiterating that Defoe remains 'committed' to the Toronto cause.

"As of now, yes, there is no reason he wouldn't (be with the team next spring)."