Defoe set to return to 'special' Bournemouth

Striker Jermain Defoe trains ahead of England's World Cup qualifier against Scotland on Saturday.
Striker Jermain Defoe trains ahead of England's World Cup qualifier against Scotland on Saturday.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe has praised Bournemouth ahead of his expected move to the English Premier League club this summer.

Defoe, who scored 15 goals in 37 league appearances for relegated Sunderland, had a medical at Bournemouth on Tuesday and is expected to rejoin the south-coast club where he had a year-long loan spell in 2000-01.

The 34-year-old is able to leave Sunderland for free as he has an escape clause in his contract allowing him to move if the club got relegated.

"What I want to do is focus on England... and then after that everyone will know," Defoe told reporters ahead of Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Scotland.

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"Bournemouth is a club close to my heart, for obvious reasons. It's a special place, with a top manager, and a team that's done so well from where they've come from. A unique story."

He added that a deal would be announced officially only next month as a form of respect to Sunderland fans.

"Two and a bit years at Sunderland, I enjoyed my time there. It's not nice when you get relegated and I don't think it's fair on the Sunderland fans to come out so soon after they've been relegated and say that I'm signing for someone else," he said.

He also urged Wayne Rooney to look for regular playing time even if it was away from Old Trafford after England's record scorer (53) was left out of Gareth Southgate's squad for the Scotland game and a friendly with France three days later.

The 31-year-old forward, who has lost his place in Manchester United's first team, was also left out by England earlier this year for matches against Germany and Lithuania.

"I love Wazza. He's an unbelievable player. Someone who's done so much," Defoe said.

"I read things about him and sometimes I'm quite taken aback. He came into the game young and played a lot of football. It's not easy on the body, and mentally with all that pressure he's under - probably more than most of the lads.

"I think he knows he's got to play regular football. All I'd say is I wish him the best.

"He's a top player and hopefully he'll get the chance to go somewhere and express himself, and just enjoy playing."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2017, with the headline 'Defoe set to return to 'special' Bournemouth'. Print Edition | Subscribe