'It would make sense': The Rangers verdict on Jermain Defoe and potential of a return to Sunderland
Former Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe has left Rangers – but could a return to the Stadium of Light really be on the cards?
The 39-year-old made just two appearances in the SPL this season but will be remembered fondly for his time at Ibrox.
To find out more about Defoe’s situation we caught up with Rangers reporter Jordan Campbell from The Athletic:
What do you think Defoe’s next move will be?
JC: “I believe he sees himself as still having something to offer as a player so I would expect to see him pull his boots on again this season.
“Whether that is in a hybrid role as a coach like he was at Rangers this season I’m not sure as he returned to being a player when Giovanni van Bronckhorst came in.
“Steven Gerrard added him to his coaching staff but Michael Beale was the main coach on the training pitch, while Tom Culshaw took the defence and set pieces.
“Defoe worked with the strikers mainly but he was a well-liked member of the squad and is often referred to as ‘uncle’ by some of the younger London boys he took under his wing.
“His level of dedication is thought to have rubbed off on many in the squad and he has acted as a mentor to the younger players but he still has the hunger to score goals himself.”
Why wasn’t he playing for Rangers this season?
JC: “He quite simply finds himself behind Alfredo Morelos, Kemar Roofe and Fashion Sakala in the striking department. Understandably, at 39, they add more to the team with their all-round game but he is still the best finisher at the club.
“He has only made two appearances off the bench though and it continued the lack of game time he got last season. He picked up a few muscle injuries which kept him out at different points but there was a sense he was being phased out and a move was on the cards.”
Do you realistically think he could return to Sunderland?
JC: “It’s hard to say what level he is now suited to as he hasn’t played a lot the past two years but he is still a deadly finisher and, if the ball dropped to anyone in the box, you’d probably still want it to be him.
“The frustration at not having played lately may have fired him up and Sunderland is a place he obviously holds dear so it would make sense for that to be an option.”
How will he be remembered at Rangers?
JC: “The tributes from fans and former teammates/coaches show that he will be remembered fondly.
“With 32 goals he had a great record of a goal every 99 minutes and he also scored some memorable goals. The late strike to seal a 4-2 win at Pittodrie, the superb half-volley against Livingston when he didn’t break stride, the jinking run to seal a 4-1 win over Celtic and the final goal in the unbeaten season all stand out.
“He wasn’t a main player and his role as an impact sub rarely tended to work if Rangers were chasing a game, but he contributed dozens of goals and his appreciation of the size and intensity of the club was received well by the fans.”