BOURNEMOUTH manager Eddie Howe says no deal has yet been finalised to send former England striker Jermain Defoe on an 18-month loan to Rangers.
The 36-year-old has found his first-team chances limited this season, and is reported to be set for a switch to join up with Steven Gerrard at Ibrox.
But Howe maintains that nothing has yet been confirmed, with any potential transfer progressing only if it is “in the player’s best interest”.
At a press conference broadcast on Sky Sports News, Howe said: “No deal has been finalised, so until that moment happens, it would be foolish of me to comment, so let’s wait and see what happens in the next few days.
“Any deal which does get agreed will be in the player’s best interest and what the player wants to pursue.
“From our side, I have said from day one, I love working with Jermain. The relationship we have had, how professional he has been and for the group of players. As I say, no deal has been finalised, so let’s see what happens.”
Defoe joined Bournemouth on a free transfer in June 2017 following Sunderland’s relegation from the Premier League.
As the former West Ham, Tottenham and Portsmouth forward, who also had a spell at Toronto FC, prepares to leave the Vitality Stadium, Howe maintains it was worthwhile bringing him to the south coast.
“The (2017) deal has been a good one from our perspective. I would do it again in a heartbeat,” the Bournemouth manager said.
“He scored some massive goals for us last year, I don’t think anyone should forget that.
“They all earned us points – the game here against Brighton, if we had not won that, then who knows how our season would have unravelled, the two goals against Crystal Palace, the last-gasp equaliser against Watford, massive moments in our season.
“Then you add the other value that he brings in the changing room and on the training pitch and his experience, he has definitely been a role model for our younger players.
“It is something I would do again and again given the same circumstances.”
Should the deal to Rangers progress as planned, Defoe is expected to join up with Gerrard’s squad at a warm-weather training camp in Tenerife before the domestic Scottish programme resumes later in January.
Defoe has made only four substitute appearances in the Premier League this season, but did lead the attack in two of the Carabao Cup ties.
Bournemouth hosts Brighton in the FA Cup third round on Saturday, which is a fixture Defoe would most likely have been set to feature in.
Howe confirmed he was set to rotate the side for the cup tie following the midweek 3-3 draw against Watford.
“There will be changes to the team, this game comes for after a lot of games for clubs,” the Bournemouth boss said.
There is, however, no chance Howe will take the competition lightly.
“We’re all looking forward to the game. The (FA Cup) third round is always a mark on the football calendar, so it’s great to be at home and we want the same attacking flair from Wednesday,” he said.
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