Toronto FC today announced two significant signings, spending a reported combined total of $19 million for Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley. In MLS, where the league has built its foundations on parity and stringent spending, this is a very big deal for the league and the Canadian club team.
Both Defoe and Bradley reportedly turned down offers from clubs in the Premier League and Serie A to come to MLS. In Defoe’s case, this is a player who is putting his England World Cup squad place on the line.
Bradley, on the other hand, had found himself in an extremely unfortunate position. Ranking fourth choice centre midfielder at AS Roma, who have arguably one of the most formidable central defensive partnerships in Europe (De Rossi and Strootman), the possibilities for playing time during the remainder of the season seemed improbable. However, Bradley will be fondly remembered in Italy. In the 2012/13 season, Bradley started 26 games and earned the nickname ‘The General.’ He built a good rapport with the Roma fans, but injury hampered his progress at the start of the 2013/14 season, which allowed Kevin Strootman to make a smooth transition into the Roma midfield, forcing Bradley to become an outsider.
This was further compounded by the recent arrival of on-loan signing Belgian Radja Nainggollan.
Bradley had opportunities to discuss moves to Fulham, Sunderland, Hellas Verona and Bologna, which were hardly inspiring. So when he was approached by Toronto, he jumped at the opportunity.
For Defoe and Bradley, there were three key reasons why the players decided to make the move to Toronto FC and MLS:
1. Money. This was always going to be one of the crucial deciding factors to encourage two European-based players with established pedigree to join MLS. Jermain Defoe will earn an annual salary of $8.3 million while Bradley will earn $7.1 million. Defoe will see his weekly salary increase from £67million/week at Tottenham to £90,000/week at Toronto FC. Michael Bradley, meanwhile, will make more money in MLS than he was at AS Roma.
2. Lifestyle. Defoe and Bradley both referred to how family played a big decision in their moves to Canada. Bradley has only recently become a new father and is helping raise a young family. Moving closer to home, to a city that is culturally very similar to many American cities, must have been a critical factor in Bradley’s decision to return.