On the day that Jermain Defoe's move to Toronto was officially announced, it was revealed by Ryan Nelsen that the striker had the chance to join one of the Premier League's top-four clubs, as reported by The Daily Star's Jack Wilson.
Wilson quotes the MLS side's manager prior to the announcement, who revealed:
I think if you ask any Premier League club then they would take Jermain right now.
I know Tottenham are getting offers from everywhere for his services at the moment, from top-four clubs in England as well.
Defoe's future had been the subject of much speculation this January, before Spurs officially announced his departure:
We have reached agreement with Toronto FC for the transfer of Jermain Defoe to the MLS side, with effect from February 28, 2014— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) January 10, 2014
Nelsen was clearly anxious of a Premier League club hijacking his transfer; but the question is, which top-four side wanted the England forward?
While Chelsea and Arsenal need strikers, it's highly unlikely Spurs would have entered dialogue to help their London rivals.
Manchester City are well stocked for forwards, which leaves the most plausible option to be Liverpool, who have suffered numerous injuries in recent weeks, leaving them short in attack.
Daniel Sturridge's absence has left the Anfield club solely reliant on Luis Suarez, with Brendan Rodgers provided little manoeuvrability to work with from the bench.
The Uruguayan has already scored 20 goals this season, masking these issues, and together he and Sturridge have accounted for 29 of Liverpool's 46 goals—over 63 percent.
Iago Aspas has been slow adjusting to the Premier League's pace, not scoring in 10 appearances, and perhaps Liverpool wanted a more reliable source of goals from the bench.
However, Defoe will now head to MLS, ending his Tottenham stay at the end of February.
Defoe would have struggled to fit into the Reds' system. Rodgers demands his forward line be fluid and that his attackers interchange, pulling their opponents out of position to create space—an approach not suited to Defoe.
The Spurs striker has become more of a pure finisher with age, simply receiving the ball to shoot—as this stat from WhoScored underlines.
Jermain Defoe: Has averaged fewer touches per shot (8.8) than any other player in the Premier League this season #THFC— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) January 9, 2014
Of course, there are no guarantees it was Liverpool who courted Defoe. If Nelsen was using a broader sense of the term "top four," Everton may have been the club mentioned.
Did Liverpool Need Defoe?
The Toffees were fourth going into 2014 and seem close to selling Nikica Jelavic, as Simon Jones reports in The Daily Mail.
Roberto Martinez would surely be uneasy housing just Romelu Lukaku as his lone experienced forward, making offers for Defoe a possibility.
Either way, while Liverpool appear the most likely top-four club to enquire, the chances of landing Defoe always seemed remote. Toronto has long been his expected destination, and that has now been confirmed.