Why Tottenham should swap Alderweireld for Man Utd’s Martial

Rumours of a straight swap between Tottenham and Manchester United for Alderweireld and Martial are picking up steam.


REUTERS/Phil Noble

Since Toby Alderweireld found himself on the sidelines of the Tottenham team through injury, it’s been rumoured that he’d be departing North London in the summer due to disputes over his wages. With Daniel Levy reluctant to break his rigid pay structure for the central defender, the Belgian has set his sights on pastures new.

Jose Mourinho is known to be a keen admirer of one of the Premier League’s best centre backs and Manchester United have no issues matching his wage demands of around £150k p/w.

On the other side of the coin, there’s Anthony Martial. The 22-year-old is out of favour at Old Trafford and criminally under-used by Mourinho, culminating in his exclusion from France’s World Cup squad.

Martial seems destined to leave Manchester in the summer, with Tottenham just one club in a long line of potential suitors for the forward.

Given United’s interest in Alderweireld, is there a swap deal to be done?

Toby Alderweireld

The centre-back just wants pay parity with Spurs’ top earners -the likes of Harry Kane, Hugo Lloris and compatriot Jan Vertonghen-, parity that he duly deserves, but Levy’s insistence on his prized pay structure forbids such a rise.

Manchester United

There are clubs, however, that don’t have a problem paying high wages to world class players. Alderweireld is just that. He’s shone brightly amongst the Tottenham defenders since his arrival in 2015 and solidified his position as one of the world’s best centre-backs. 

Money isn’t an object at Old Trafford and Mourinho could use another central defender to reinforce his back four.

Alderweireld represents a massive upgrade on the likes of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, the current first choice pairing, and will improve United’s already tight defence with experience, leadership and organisation.

This is obvious, however. To understand the logic behind selling Alderweireld, we need to take a look at the matter from Tottenham’s perspective.

Tottenham

A superficial examination of this potential transfer shows that Spurs would be selling one of their best players. Alderweireld’s talent is undeniable and there’s little point in arguing against it.

However, it’s worth noting that the Belgian doesn’t come without his injury concerns.

He’s suffered from repeat hamstring injuries in the previous two seasons, resulting in his failure to appear in the Premier League from November 2017 to March 2018. He made just 14 in the league in last season. In 2016/17, similarly, Alderweireld was sidelined with another hamstring problem from October to December.

In addition, Davinson Sanchez, signed for a club record fee from Ajax in the summer, negated the loss of Alderweireld, whilst Jan Vertonghen did fantastically well to fill the leadership void at the back.

REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff

In terms of statistics, Spurs conceded 0.93 goals per game with Alderweireld playing, compared to 0.96 without. Whilst there was no improvement, there wasn’t a marked regression in defending without him in the side, demonstrating that the Lilywhites were indeed able to cope without him.

Alderweireld is approaching 30 years of age and in the rigours of the Premier League, might only have a few seasons left at elite level, especially if his injuries doggedly bother him. Some players, moreover, are just never the same after repeat injuries.

Given Levy’s strict structure and Alderweireld’s desire to earn one last major contract, it’s a natural parting of ways that makes sense for both parties. Although Tottenham would be selling yet another top player to a Premier League rival, there’s a method to the madness and an incentive to do so.

Anthony Martial

Frozen out by Jose Mourinho and left out of the French World Cup squad, Anthony Martial needs a move away from Manchester to reinvigorate his stalling career.

Tottenham

RealSport have previously analysed why Martial would make a fantastic addition to the squad at Tottenham in terms of his playing qualities, but United’s interest in one of Spurs’ players adds another dimension to this deal.

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has previously verbalised his admiration for Martial and Standard Sport reported that he’d been made a top target in the summer.

REUTERS/Andrew Yates

It means, therefore, that Levy can use interest in Alderweireld as a bargaining chip in a deal for Martial to ensure Spurs don’t pay a penny for the winger.

Yes, Tottenham would be losing a top player to a domestic rival, but so would Manchester United. Mourinho would relinquish one of the world’s brightest young talents seemingly for an injury-prone 29-year-old defender with no guarantees on his career longevity.

RealSport verdict: Swap

It’s not every day a player of Martial’s ability becomes available to Tottenham, given their financial constraints.

Spurs would theoretically come out of this deal just about better off. Ultimately, Alderweireld is leaving irrespective of what happens regarding Martial.

For Tottenham, they may as well gain a potentially world-class player in return, right?

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Oli Stein

Oli graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in History and has worked with RealSport since September 2016.

Currently assistant football editor and Tottenham correspondent.

Follow him on Twitter: @steinoliver_

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