The news of Manchester United wanting Toby Alderweireld and Tottenham Hotspur wanting Anthony Martial naturally led to talk of a swap this summer.
Jose Mourinho wants to improve his defence, while Mauricio Pochettino is not one to pass up an opportunity to add young attacking talent to his team.
Already it feels as if this could become the summer’s first transfer saga as talks continue between the two clubs, but who would be getting the better deal? Sportsmail examines…
Manchester United want Toby Alderweireld (left) and Tottenham want Anthony Martial (right)
Value to their own clubs
In other words, how much worse off would Tottenham be without Alderweireld? Would they fall apart? Or can they cope without the central defender?
The same for United without Martial. Would they miss him? Would Mourinho be left red-faced and full of regret because he let another future world-beater leave?
The answer may lie in the two teams’ win percentages with and without their players.
Pochettino tried to prove a point to his contract rebel this season by barely selecting him when fit. Despite being one of the best defenders in the Premier League, Alderweireld started just three games in 2018. Some fans feared Pochettino’s stubbornness might harm them but it didn’t.
Tottenham demonstrated they could cope with Alderweireld after he went down with an injury
United’s win percentage is not dramatically affected by whether Martial features or not
Tottenham’s win percentage with Alderweireld this season was 55 per cent. Without him, it rises to 62.9. Without him, they went on a 14-game unbeaten run that saw Spurs finish inside the top four.
As for United, their win percentage does not change too dramatically.
It goes from 65.4 per cent with Martial to 66.7 without, while they score 1.8 goals per game on average in both scenarios.
Mourinho showed this season that he lost trust in Martial and he did not hold back in his damning post-match verdict following their loss to Brighton in May. He feels his lack of impact is an issue.
How badly do United need a defender?
Tottenham owner Daniel Levy would like around £75million for Alderweireld – similar to the fee that Liverpool spent on Virgil van Dijk in December. Jurgen Klopp has certainly seen an improvement since signing the Dutchman from Southampton.
Mourinho wants that impact too and the Portuguese seems to think Spurs’ stylish defender is the answer to his problems.
Mourinho is not convinced by the likes of Phil Jones (pictured) and wants a defensive revamp
The United boss is not sold on United’s backline despite conceding just 28 goals all season
United conceded 28 goals this season – only one more than Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. It saw them finish with the second-best defence in the Premier League.
Mourinho, though, is unconvinced. He had Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Victor Lindelof and Marcos Rojo but Eric Bailly – United’s best centre-back – struggled to get given game-time.
United’s manager has spoken about the ‘reality of the numbers’ and how they finished 19 points off City. He knows their attack was blown away but is desperate to revamp his defence too.
Do Spurs need another attacker?
When Harry Kane suffered ankle ligament damage at Bournemouth in March, it said a lot that Pochettino decided to bring on Erik Lamela rather than Fernando Llorente.
Llorente started only one Premier League game this season and was used as a substitute 15 times. The striker has grown frustrated and could try to jump ship this summer.
Fernando Llorente has started just one Premier League game and could try to leave Tottenham
Most would not blame him. It is the same as what happened to Vincent Janssen, although Pochettino claims the two situations do not compare.
Maybe the answer, then, is for them to bring in a player who can ease the burden on Kane but also perform in other roles. Similar to Heung-min Son, Martial can be that man.
The 22-year-old Frenchman is versatile and can be used behind Kane, alongside him or instead of him. After seeing what has happened to Llorente and Janssen, that may be the better option.
Martial became the world’s most expensive teenager when he was signed from Monaco for £36m, rising to £58m. That was in September 2015 when he was just 19. The potential was enormous.
Now 22, Martial has 86 top-flight games under his belt and has scored 24 goals in Manchester.
He has been left out of France’s World Cup squad, showing how his career has stalled at United, and may feel he still has a point to prove in the Premier League. Time is still on his side, at least.
Mourinho has lost his trust in Martial and is willing to let the Frenchman leave Old Trafford
Meanwhile, with Alderweireld now 29 years old, he is set for one last big contract, hence why he has been holding off putting pen to paper with Tottenham.
The Belgian wanted £180,000 but that is not the Spurs way. They held firm, Pochettino decided it was wise not to overly use him during the saga, and now they are in talks with United.
Mourinho, though, is ignoring the age and instead focusing on the talent. Alderweireld is still one of the Premier League’s finest centre backs and could improve United’s back line from the off.
So who would be getting a better deal in a swap?
In our opinion, Tottenham.
As the season went on, and the contract stand-off continued, it kept looking likelier that Alderweireld would be leaving. Spurs then had no choice but to try to make it work in their favour.
Martial still has time on his side at just 22 years old and may feel he has a point to prove
Alderweireld’s stuggles to get into the Tottenham side during his unsettled spell said a lot
Selling to a rival is never ideal but snapping up a 22-year-old attacker with Premier League experience and plenty of potential would hardly be a bad consolation prize.
Alderweireld’s inability to get in the Spurs side this season during his unsettled spell said a lot. Pochettino continued to leave him out, showing faith in 21-year-old Davinson Sanchez, and it did not stop Spurs in their fight for the top four.
The same cannot happen for a second season, however. Alderweireld wants out of the cold once and for all. Tottenham, though, would have reason to be pleased with this bit of business.