28 Sep 2020 11:50 AM +00:00

Tottenham: Why sign Martial over Bale, Zaha & Pulisic

REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

The talk of the town in Tottenham so far this summer has been whether Gareth Bale will return to North London after five seasons in the Spanish capital but he's not the only forward the Lilywhites have seen their name linked with.

The links with Wilfried Zaha have persisted for the best part of a year, whilst Spurs have also been rumoured to be interested in Manchester United's Anthony Martial and, lately, Borussia Dortmund's Christian Pulisic.

RealSport are looking at which forward would be the best value for money.

Jump To


When it comes to experience, there's only one name that stands out in this category: Gareth Bale. The Welshman has significantly enhanced his trophy cabinet at Real Madrid, winning one La Liga title and three Champions Leagues, with a fourth potentially on the way.

Bale is outstandingly experienced in winning trophies and, therefore, has the knowledge of what it takes to reach the next level, experience that Spurs desperately lack. Playing for Real Madrid breeds a winning mentality, one that Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino needs to instil in North London.


REUTERS/Susana Vera

This is one area that Bale trumps the others. Wilfried Zaha hasn't won anything with Crystal Palace, whilst Pulisic has won just one DFB Pokal at Dortmund, though Martial does have an FA Cup, EFL Cup and Europa League to his name.

Moreover, the Frenchman has played under Jose Mourinho, a serial winner that successfully creates a winning mentality amongst his players.

Martial, too, has been playing in the Premier League since 2015, Zaha 2013 and Bale between 2007 and 2013. When spending such high fees on players, it's vitally important that the settling in period is as short as possible, something that cannot be guaranteed for Pulisic, who only made his Dortmund debut in January 2016.

Value for money

Frankly, any one of these forwards will likely cost upwards of £40 million, with Bale the most expensive of the bunch. Tottenham could theoretically afford Martial, Zaha or Pulisic, with Toby Alderweireld potentially used as a sweetener with Manchester United for any deal involving Martial.

Despite the rumours surrounding Bale's potential return to Tottenham, the fact of the matter is that he'd be too expensive. A £60 million fee Tottenham could reluctantly afford, but it's his wages that prove problematic.

The Welshman earns a massive £350k p/w after taxes, therefore he'd have to take a pay cut to move back to Spurs, or Daniel Levy would have to negotiate a deal in which Madrid subsidise his wages.

However, the question is would such an expensive deal for Bale be worth the money? Bale's quality is undeniable, but it's nonetheless risky to sign a player turning 29 this summer. Furthermore, Bale is injury prone, making over 30 La Liga appearances just once in five years and failing to make more than 25 since 2014/15.


REUTERS/Hannah McKay

What Zaha, Martial and Pulisic have on their side is age. All three are players with high potential ceilings and, for a similar price, represent far better value for money in the long-term. Their wages, moreover, will be significantly less than Bale's, which is naturally music to Levy's ears.

It's worth mentioning, too, that Bale's game relies heavily on speed. Unlike Cristiano Ronaldo, Bale isn't intelligent enough in a footballing sense to reinvent his game as a goal poacher. Once his speed wanes, following suit will be his overall ability. Investing so heavily on a player with an approaching expiration date is imprudent.

What do the stats say?

Given the position Spurs find themselves in, they can't afford to waste money on a player who's not ready to hit the ground running and provide some end product. Fortunately, that doesn't seem to be an issue with this crop of forwards.

Wilfried Zaha Anthony Martial Gareth Bale Christian Pulisic
Key passes41243524
Chances created43283729

Bale led the goal-scoring charts with 15 goals in 22 La Liga games, his fourth time reaching 15 goals or more in his five seasons at the Bernabeu, whilst Zaha had his best-ever scoring season with nine goals.

For a wide forward, Martial can be content with his nine-goal tally in the Premier League and, in truth, if he were used frequently by Mourinho he could easily have scored more.

Stats show that Zaha is the biggest risk-taker of the bunch, completing a massive 107 take-ons in the Premier League, nearly four times as many as Bale. 

The Ivorian is also the most creative, underscored by the fact that he created the most chances (43) and completed the most key passes (41).


RealSport verdict: Anthony Martial

The young Frenchman has an unfathomable amount of potential -there's a reason he won the European Golden Boy award in 2015- and he's criminally under-used by Jose Mourinho, a situation that Pochettino can rectify.

Seeing his playing time reduced since the arrival of Alexis Sanchez, consequently missing out on a call-up to France's World Cup squad, Martial would likely be keen to leave Old Trafford and stay in the Premier League.

Therefore, he's affordable and available. Moreover, Spurs have a degree of bargaining power over the Red Devils given their interest in Toby Alderweireld, something that can be used to their advantage.

Martial is, crucially, capable of playing wide or as a lone striker, solving two positional problems for Tottenham and will only get better under Pochettino's guidance.