Toronto FC officially unveils Defoe and Bradley

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TSN.ca Staff
1/13/2014 12:20:03 PM
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Toronto FC officially unveiled English international striker Jermain Defoe and U.S. international midfielder Michael Bradley as its latest designated players on Monday morning in front of a boisterous crowd of supporters.

Defoe, a 31-year-old striker, comes over from Tottenham Hotspur on a transfer believed to be somewhere in the neighbourhood of $10.8 million to $14.4 milion and an average yearly salary of a reported $8.3 million. Bradley, 26, heads to Toronto from Roma for a reported fee of $10 million and a salary of $7.1 million.

"To acquire a star midfielder like Michael Bradley, seen by many as the top American player in the world, alongside Jermain Defoe, makes this a groundbreaking day for Toronto FC and for Major League Soccer," said Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president and CEO Tim Leiweke of the club's signings.

A visibly emotional Leiweke said that the investment came down to one question that the team had to ask.

"Why can't we be great?" he added. "We didn't win anything today, but we created a great opportunity."

Defoe, who will return to Spurs on loan until Feb. 28, spoke highly of the reception he's received so far in Toronto and spoke of his desire to hit the ground running.

"I feel at home already," he said. "As players, all you want to do is put your boots on, get out there and let your football do the talking...I feel blessed and honoured and I'm looking forward to it so much."

Asked if a place on England's 2014 World Cup squad weighed in on his decision to come to North America, Defoe admitted that playing time was his primary concern.

"It's important to be playing," he explained. "To get into a World Cup or European Cup squad, it's based on merit...if selected, I'll be ready."

Bradley, whose unveiling was not previously advertised by the club, returns to MLS for the first time since 2005.

"I have never been more excited, and more motivated, for any challenge in my career," he said. "What they're trying to build here in really special, something really unique and different from anywhere else in MLS and North American soccer."

The team also announced that working agreements were in place with both Spurs and Roma that would result in both friendlies being played in Toronto and a player exchange with Roma that will result in Toronto FC players training with Roma.

With Defoe and Bradley in the fold, Toronto FC's number of designated players stands at four - one more than the league-allowed three. With new Brazilian striker Gilberto signed in the fall, Argentinian midfielder Matias Laba is expected to be the odd man out.

Toronto general manager Tim Bezbatchenko confirmed that Laba is still with the club and that a final roster did not have to be submitted until the middle of March.

"We'll be working through the next steps over the next month and a half," he said.



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