Defoe revives Premier career

Jermain Defoe is back in the Premier League and could make his debut for Sunderland against his former club Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Saturday.

The 32-year-old striker’s unhappy spell at Major League Soccer side Toronto FC is over and although Defoe really wanted to link up with former Spurs boss Harry Redknapp’s Queens Park Rangers, he is happy that his disappointing and uncertain time in Canada is over.

Defoe signed a four-year contract worth $120,000 a week for Toronto but was too expensive for QPR and while Leicester City were interested in signing the former England striker, it was Sunderland that found the cash.

He is on a $100,000 a week salary and for that Black Cats boss Gus Poyet hopes Defoe scores frequently enough to help them avoid relegation.

Sunderland are desperate and the Stadium of Light is a gloomy place at the moment after a run of poor results, the latest being a 1-0 defeat against Liverpool last weekend.

Only Aston Villa have scored fewer times than the 18 Sunderland have managed in 21 matches, which explains why they are so close to the 
relegation zone.

Steven Fletcher and Adam Johnson are their joint top-scorers with a mere four goals while there has been two apiece by Jordi Gomez, Sebastian Larsson, Jack Rodwell and Connor Wickham.

After leaving English football last summer, Defoe scored 11 times in 16 games during his debut campaign for Toronto.

He is 14th on the list of all-time Premier League top scorers, with 124 during spells with West Ham, 
Spurs and Portsmouth.

Sunderland have won only three 21 league games this season and collected only a single point from their past four games.

No striking problems for Manchester City who are trying to sign Southampton striker Jay Rodriguez despite signing Wilfried Bony for $40 million this week.

City are competing with Liverpool and Tottenham for Rodriguez who could be tempted to stay at Southampton who have offered him a better contract and urging him to extend his stay on the south coast.

Southampton are resisting selling Rodriguez, but an offer over $30 million may be enough to sell him.

Rodriguez, 25, has been injured since April after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in a Premier League match against City.

The injury wrecked his chances of going to the World Cup with England, which he looked certain to after earning his first call-up to the national side last season and scoring five times in four games.

Rodriguez netted 17 times in 40 games in all competitions and was in the best form of his Southampton career since his $9 million move from Burnley three years ago.

Rodriguez is almost ready and set to play in some Under-21 games for Southampton to get fully fit.

If Liverpool don’t get him then they hope to sign Paris Saint-Germain forward Ezequiel Lavezzi where the Ligue 1 giants line up Nicolas Gaitan 
as his replacement.

The Reds are long-term admirers of the Argentine international, having lost out to PSG to sign him from Napoli three years ago.

Lavezzi may arrive at Anfield for only $11 million as PSG are happy to get whatever they can for the 29-year-old in the January transfer window.

PSG want to improve their Financial Fair Play situation by reducing their wage bill – and Lavezzi is on a hefty annual salary of around $4.7 million.

The deal is looking increasingly likely as PSG boss Laurent Blanc lines up Benfica winger Gaitan as his successor.

Manchester United are also interested in signing Gaitan. United boss Louis van Gaal hopes to bring the 26-year-old Argentine to Old Trafford to partner his compatriot Angel Di Maria in a $40 million move.

Meanwhile, QPR boss Harry Redknapp looks likely to get the sack if Rangers lose their at Manchester United on Saturday.

It could be the end for the 67-year-old Londoner whose relegation-threatened Rangers have not taken an away point all season

Defeats by League One Sheffield United in the FA Cup and by relegation rivals Burnley have put Redknapp under increasing pressure.

He is desperately trying to get new players in during the transfer window, but the Rangers board vetoed a move to sign Defoe.

Now the Rangers directors are advising owner Tony Fernandes to make a managerial change with former Tottenham boss Tim Sherwood the obvious candidate to replace Redknapp.

Fernandes has a warm relationship with Redknapp and resisted calls for his sacking when he was under similar pressure after a poor start to the season, but he may have no other choice after this weekend.

At least Arsenal’s search for a top quality striker has been eased since the emergence of Alexis Sanchez after an 
uncertain start.

It took the 26-year-old Chilean a while to settle at the Emirates but since adjusting to the speed and intensity of the Premier League he has become a big Gooner favorite.

Although Cesc Fabregas has edged ahead of Sergio Aguero and Eden Hazard as the most likely for the Player of the Year award, Sanchez is now second favorite behind Fabregas, his former Barcelona teammate.

Sanchez has been brilliant recently and won over Arsenal fans who were initially disappointed with his lack of goals although his commitment was never in doubt. “It’s been an eye-opener,” Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain said. “He’s like a Duracell battery. He never stops and never gives in.”

In his first 20 Premier League games, Sanchez has scored or created more than half of Arsenal’s 19 goals, an impact that no other newcomer to the elite division has ever done.

Frenchman Eric Cantona did equal Sanchez’s tally with Leeds United and Manchester United in the inaugural 1992-3 season but he was already settled in the English game having played in the 
old Football League.

Sanchez has outshone every iconic import, including Aguero (18 goals and assists), Ruud van Nistelrooy (17), Jurgen Klinsmann (16), Arjen Robben (16), Gianfranco Zola (15) and Luis Suarez (11).

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