To Go Or Not, Defoe?

by Joshua Fowler

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

On a cold November day in 2009, Jemain Defoe arrived at White Hart Lane for what was surely to be the personal height of his career so far, five Premier League goals in a single game. That day Wigan couldn’t handle Defoe, losing 9-1, the Latics felt the full force of a player that on his day is as good as any other striker in the league.

Jump forward a season and an 18 goal Defoe has transformed into a 4 goal striker, albeit with one game to go. Short of scoring 14 goals in one game, the Beckton born striker will finish way off of his tally last season and, as it stands, below the likes of Marlon Harewood, Jon Walters and level with defender, Branislav Ivanovic. With this in mind it was inevitable that rumours would begin to circulate and that, potentially, Spurs would begin to process of gently setting Defoe adrift.

Little Jemain curled up into a ball, rocking back and forth in the corner of an empty room is the image my mind conjures up of Defoe cut from his footballing father, Harry Redknapp. Under his guidance at West Ham, Portsmouth and now Spurs, Defoe became a household name and a member of Fabio Capello’s 2010 World Cup squad, scoring one of the three pathetic goals the nation managed. Bled by Harry at West Ham, Defoe continued his Hammers career until their relegation in 2004. Jumping ship for his first stint at White Hart Lane, Defoe again followed Redknapp to Pompey after 4 years in a Spurs shirt, only to turn right back around and follow the gaffer straight back to Spurs after one season on the coast.

Now at the peak age of 28, Defoe should be setting the league alight as he has done on occasion. Eclipsed by Van Der Vaart, Modric and Bale this season, and left to languish behind Crouch and Pavlyuchenko, it seems its time for Jemain to clean out his locker and search for pastures new. Given the marching orders by the referee earlier this season against Aston Villa, and scoring his few goals against the likes of West Brom and Wolves, it seems Defoe’s career has began its decline during what should be his peak years.

The timing could well come as a blessing to Defoe, who though Premier League quality, is not perhaps Champions League quality. Stale at Tottenham, new life is needed in the veins of the man who is in the elite class of players to reach 100 Premier League goals. His recent situation brings to mind the plight of Andy Cole, a man as synonymous with Manchester United as Defoe is with Tottenham. Leaving United, Cole found steady first team football with Blackburn Rovers, where he enjoyed a moderately successful scoring record, before becoming a journeyman of the top division.

Almost certain to leave this summer, Defoe’s plight looks Cole bound. Destined to drop a level in order to get first team football, names such as Aston Villa and Everton have begun to circulate in the press. Though Defoe seems a somewhat similar, predatory player as Darren Bent, there does seem to be a gap for a genuine goal scorer at Everton. However, could they afford the price, perhaps Fulham could be a potential suitor for the England striker. Able to work as part of a ‘Big Man, Little Man’ partnership, Defoe would work well with Zamora and supply Fulham with the goals that Andy Johnson doesn’t.

Wherever he ends up, we can almost certainly say that Jemain Defoe will not be at Spurs next season. Already with three Premier League clubs under his belt, the danger for Defoe is the Andy Cole style decent into the journeyman in what should be his best years. Given the right club and the right service, Jemain Defoe still has a huge role to play for club and maybe even country.

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