The 2010/11 season has undoubtedly been a frustrating one for Defoe. Having made 43 appearances during the previous season, scoring 24 goals, the former West Ham prodigy has dropped to 29 appearances and nine goals, his lowest goal tally since 2005/06. At the same time, Spurs have dropped a place in the Premier League, missing out on a return to the Champions League, while Defoe himself missed a large part of Tottenham’s Champions League exploits this season through injury and non-selection. Defoe missed both the games against holders Inter Milan after ankle ligament surgery and was an unused substitute for the ties with Inter’s city rivals Milan. He featured only against Young Boys, twice, Werder Bremen, where he played little over half an hour, the final group game against FC Twente, a 3-3 draw in which he scored twice, and a combined 75 minutes in two games with Real Madrid.
Despite sitting on the sidelines during an historic campaign for Tottenham, watching his teammates take on some of Europe’s biggest names, hampered by injury and a lack of playing time, Defoe remains a quality player, as the statistics show. With only three fewer goals to his name than Spurs’ highest-scoring striker Roman Pavlyuchenko, despite featuring in nine fewer games, Defoe has also scored as many in the Premier League as Peter Crouch – four – while his lack of goals in the Champions League can be explained by the aforementioned injury that forced him to miss a large portion of the competition. Defoe also has a better goals-to-minutes ratio than Crouch, scoring this season once every 205 minutes compared to his former Portsmouth teammate’s average of a goal every 238 minutes.
Defoe did express his love for Tottenham but if Redknapp seeks to rebuild his squad this summer in an attempt to return to the Champions League, Defoe could be an in-demand and expendable source of income. Redknapp has preferred a Crouch-Rafael van der Vaart partnership for much of this season, using the Dutchman behind the striker to good effect – van der Vaart has 15 goals in his debut Spurs season, while Crouch has nine assists, having made only seven. On paper, Defoe would appear to dovetail with van der Vaart but the former was injured when the latter was on fire last autumn, and the pair was forced to develop a partnership when the season was well underway. With Crouch and van der Vaart gelling well the manager may cash in on reported interest from Fulham, Everton and Newcastle United, each in need of a proven goal scorer. With 178 goals in his club career goal scorers more proven than Defoe do not come easily, and, after this disappointing season, he has something to prove.