MLS OUTFIT Toronto are interested in a swap deal involving Jermain Defoe and Sunderland frontman Jozy Altidore, according to reports in America.
Altidore missed Sunderland’s defeat to Liverpool yesterday after coming down with illness on Friday night, following a week of speculation over the 25-year-old’s future.
Toronto are understood to be the front-runners among the MLS sides vying for Altidore’s signature, yet need to offload Defoe, who is just 12 months into a four-year deal with the Canadian club.
However, reports in America have indicated that Toronto are ready to offer Defoe in a part-exchange deal for Altidore, who cost Sunderland £7million from AZ Alkmaar 18 months ago.
And the Echo understands that while the MLS transfer system is run on a franchise basis, it would be feasible to conduct such a swap.
Defoe is thought to be eager to return to the Premier League and has been training with former club Spurs, with Hull City boss Steve Bruce already confirming his interest in the 32-year-old.
The striker knows Gus Poyet too, having worked briefly under him at White Hart Lane when the current Sunderland boss was Spurs assistant manager.
But, as Sunderland have discovered in previous attempts to sign Defoe, the big barrier towards any deal is likely to be the striker’s wage demands.
Meanwhile, Sunderland have also been linked with a £3m move for Sheffield Wednesday centre-half Tom Lees.
However, as reported previously, Sunderland are likely to wait until the summer to bolster their defensive ranks, with strengthening the attack the overwhelming priority in this month’s window.
Sunderland have been continuing to scout Celtic centre-half Virgil van Dijk, but it is thought to be with a view to the end of the season when Wes Brown is out-of-contract and the loan deals of Sebastian Coates and Santiago Vergini expire, albeit the latter is likely to join permanently.