Sunderland hero may be worth a gamble for a midtable Premier League side

For all the Jermain Defoe loving right now, people largely aren’t considering him as a potential target for bigger clubs this summer. The Sunderland striker has been pushed into England reckoning by corners of the media and his reliable goalscoring performances under Sam Allardyce have helped keep the Black Cats afloat once more.

The reams of stats have been tiresome for many, but they do tell you so much about why countless managers have turned to Defoe as their saviour. He does little outside of the attacking third and he won’t be spreading the play with 30 yard diagonals any time soon, but what he does he is a master at. He scores goals, and he scores lots of them. At the ripe old age of 33, Defoe netted 15 Premier League goals for Sunderland this season and will go down as a club icon. To reiterate, 15 Premier League goals made him the league’s seventh highest goalscorer and, remarkably, he scored 34% of all those netted by Sunderland in the league this season. Defoe has not been feeding off of the services of Riyad Mahrez or Kevin De Bruyne like some of the other prolific strikers in the league, he has, relatively speaking, fed off scraps.

This summer will be hectic across Europe, particularly in the Premier League. The new TV deal will have all the clubs spending like we only previously associated with Champions League sides and it could get pretty crazy. Teams may well look to Defoe as a high-wage, low transfer outlay alternative to potential, more exotic names. Defoe has been such an asset for Sunderland and it would be a surprise if no transfer committee tested the Black Cats’ resolve. His career has shown that he scores goals wherever he plays, he is a natural finisher and, despite the loss of a yard or two of pace, he is as lethal as ever.

Where others might be a gamble – Odion Ighalo, for example – or had an interrupted season with injury, Defoe is a guaranteed goalscorer. The concern, for any club, is the length of contract he may well demand. At 33, anything more than a two year deal would be a monstrous gamble and leave them carrying heavy wages for a player they may well no longer want – Darren Bent at Aston Villa being an example of the pitfalls that might await.

Defoe’s future is in the balance in many ways. Sunderland might look to make changes if they are to show some more ambition as a side, but it would be a huge risk on their part if they do try to replace the former England striker. However, the fact he has even entered the England discussion shows that he still has ‘it’. The ex-Spurs man won’t be making a move to a top four club at his age, although there is every chance he has one final big move left in his journeyman career.