Twelve years after leaving the Boleyn Ground, Jermain Defoe could be set to reunite with boyhood club West Ham United at their new London Stadium home in January.
The bookies have cut odds on the Sunderland star rejoining the Irons next month from 5/1 to 3/1, making them comfortable favourites to be his next club.
Defoe came through the club’s famed academy as a youngster, going on to net 41 times in 105 games for the Hammers – including a memorable winning goal at Old Trafford in 2001.
However, the former England international is arguably a better player in 2016 than he was when he left the Hammers in 2004, having netted more than a goal in every two games on Wearside since the start of the 2015-16 campaign.
So it’s no surprise Slaven Bilic wants to bring West Ham’s boyhood star home. But while they’re clear favourites for the prolific striker’s signature if he moves this winter, it’s not impossible we could see the Irons usurped.
Crystal Palace are 9/1 to snap up the 35-year-old in the coming month, with new Eagles boss Sam Allardyce having managed the veteran striker at Sunderland.
Meanwhile, it’s 14/1 that he makes a controversial switch to the Black Cats’ North East rivals Middlesbrough.
However, the bookies have all but ruled out a return to Bournemouth or a switch to Newcastle United, with a move to either club priced at 25s.
A Ladbrokes spokesperson said: “Defoe could make an emotional return to East London after 12 years away, and the roof would surely lift off at London Stadium if the former Hammers hero steps out in claret and blue.”
For the current West Ham crop, though, the focus will be on their New Year’s Eve trip to Leicester City, where it’s 13/5 for Bilic’s charges to taste victory.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing