​Three years ago Jermain Defoe made the decision to leave Tottenham Hotspur to join MLS side Toronto FC. At the age of 31, some felt that the striker had made the move for an American swansong a little too early, despite his difficult final few months at White Hart Lane, where he scored just once in 14 matches.

Of course, Defoe only spent a season on the other side of the Atlantic before he was recalled to the Premier League by a Sunderland side who have as good an understanding of escapology as the great Harry Houdini himself. 


Defoe initially struggled to make an impression at the Stadium of Light, scoring just four goals in his first 17 appearances for the club. But things changed last season when Sam Allardyce took over from Dick Advocaat, as the team was built around the goalscoring ability of Defoe and the forward duly obliged, by grabbing an impressive 15 league goals to help Sunderland perform their annual escape act. 

This season has seen yet another managerial change on Wearside and of course the perennial relegation candidates find themselves in yet another fight for survival. David Moyes seems to have been on the verge of the sack virtually every week, but has still kept his side in touch of 17th placed Crystal Palace, who ironically are now managed by Allardyce. 

The former England manager is now reportedly ready to return to his former club to steal the services of Defoe. The 34-year-old has already been the subject of a £6m bid from West Ham, who were subsequently told by Sunderland that he was not for sale 'at any price'. 

Moyes recently admitted that Defoe was too ​important to sell and perhaps suggested that even he would be unable to navigate the team to safety without his main-man. 

Sunderland's reliance on their top scorer is underlined by his goal tally so far this season. Defoe has found the net 11 times in 20 league appearances, whilst the rest of his teammates have a combined effort of just seven (excluding a Robert Huth own goal). 

To call him important to the Black Cats' cause may be something of an understatement and the paltry £6m offered by West Ham really does not do his recent performances any justice. 

Sunderland v Liverpool - Premier League

The striker's current goal haul sees him sat in fourth on the list of Premier League top goalscorers this season and he is only three behind the leader, Diego Costa, who at times appears to be on a one man mission to bring the title back to Stamford Bridge. That Defoe is so close to the likes of Costa, Alexis Sanchez and Zlatan Ibrahimovic rather encapsulates his superb season thus far. 

Whilst those three take the plaudits, the Sunderland man continues to go under the radar, simply because he plays for a team at the wrong end of the table. If anything, that actually makes his performances stand out even further, considering he has had fewer attempts on goal (53) than both Sanchez (65) and Ibrahimovic (86), who play for teams whose average possession for the current campaign far exceeds Sunderland's 43%. 

But though Defoe appears to be in the midst of his best season to date, he recently became only the fourth player in the Premier League era to score 10 goals in 10 different seasons.

His longevity in the English game has been impressive and although he has failed to win any tangible honours so far in his career, his record is up there with some of the very best that the Premier League has seen. 

Currently sat seventh in the all-time top scorers of the competition, Defoe could well end his career as high as third, if he can find another 35 goals to better Andy Cole's record of 187. To finish with that many goals would be the icing on the cake for the Sunderland man, whose only real regret may be failing to add to his 55 England caps, the last of which came in a 2-0 friendly defeat to Chile in November 2013. 

Whilst an England call-up appears unlikely, he can at least concentrate on hunting down Robbie Fowler's Premier League record of 163 goals. Whether Defoe does that at Sunderland remains to be seen, but if he stays at the Stadium of Light and somehow manages to score enough goals to keep the Black Cats up come May, then it would surely go down as his best ever season. 

And though he turns 35 later this year, the Beckton born forward is simply getting better with age, as well as proving to us that not all of the best Premier League strikers play for one of the top sides.