Mario Gomez vs. Roberto Soldado: Which striker is best for Tottenham Hotspur?

Joern Pollex

Transfer rumors abound linking Tottenham Hotspur to all manner of striking targets, but Mario Gomez and Roberto Soldado stand out as being the best two. We discuss which one should be at the top of Tottenham's list.

Earlier today Kevin posted a piece evaluating the list of strikers that Tottenham Hotspur have been linked with this summer. Of course, this lead to a lively debate in the Cartilage Free Captain newsroom between myself and resident Mario Gomez (and all things beautiful) hater Lennon's Eyebrow. He believes that Roberto Soldado should be at the top of Tottenham's list of strikers to purchase. So, naturally we had to have a debate.

Bryan: Ok, So putting aside that everyone wants Damiao, state your case for why Roberto Soldado is the best striker for Spurs.

Lennon's Eyebrow: Gomez and Solado are both 20 goal a year strikers, and either would be a great player to have at Spurs. But if we have to choose between them, I'm firmly in the Bobby Soldier camp. His hold-up play and ability to bring other players into the game make him incredibly more valuable to the team than Gomez.

Bryan: I'm not going to try to argue that Gomez is a better hold-up player. However, I think that Tottenham Hotspur can function effectively without that sort of hold-up play. We saw the team do it early last season when Adebayor wasn't fit and Jermain Defoe was on a brilliant run of form. Thus, I think Gomez provides something that is even more valuable to Tottenham: GOALS. Not that Soldado doesn't score, his goal scoring record is quite good, but Gomez is just a natural scorer and his knack for finding the back of the net is what Spurs need most.

Lennon's Eyebrow: While scoring goals is obviously hugely important in any striker Spurs sign, I think what's more important is the ability to work well with Gareth Bale and get the best out of him. In Bale, we already have our 20-goal a season player. It's obvious that Bale is "The Guy" for Spurs. He's not playing second fiddle to anyone. So what we need more than anything is a striker who can occupy defenders and take attention away from Bale, and a striker who will maximize Bale's goal-scoring output. Yes, he should score goals, but he needs to do more than that.

Bryan: I agree. Bale is indeed "The Guy", but in Gomez you have a player who has a pretty good track record of working with Bale-esque players. At Bayern he played with Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, and Thomas Muller. Gomez combined well enough with those players and I don't see any reason why he couldn't do the same at Spurs with Gareth Bale. Additionally, I think Gomez would do more to take away attention from Bale. He's a threat from all over the pitch and he always seems to be in the right place at the right time.

Lennon's Eyebrow: I think that's certainly fair, Gomez did work very well with Bayern's cadre of goal-scoring midfielders/wide forwards. But there's a reason that Bayern replaced him with Mario Mandzukic this season, and it's not because the Croatian Mario is a better goalscorer. Mandzukic, like Soldado, brings that much more to the team play that it doesn't matter if he is personally scoring fewer goals, the team itself is functioning better. And this year's Bayern Munich is certainly better than last year's.

Bryan: Yes, this Bayern team was better than last years version, but that's a fairly small improvement on what was already an elite team. Tottenham need to jump quite a few levels before they can consider making adjustments like that. Tottenham just need some type of scoring threat from their center forward. We ought not be so picky as to consider scoring threat plus defensive contribution, plus etc. Gomez is going to be the striker that provides Spurs with the best goal threat. Additionally, he's a bigger guy. I know we all hate playing route one lump it long football, but we've seen how frustrating it is having a smallish (Soldado is 5'11") center forward. Gomez provides a bit of a target and an aerial threat, which is something this team desperately needs.

Lennon's Eyebrow: Obviously Bayern's on another level than we are. And I'm about to make another comparison to an elite team. But I don't think these comparisons are misplaced. Take Real Madrid, for example. Gareth Bale wants to be Cristiano Ronaldo? Fine. Let's look at how the real Cristiano Ronaldo plays. Up front Madrid have two striking options: Higuain, the classic #9 goalpoacher who lurks around and waits for the chance to score goals. And Karim Benzema, the decidedly more complete player. Higuain outscored Benzema in fewer appearances this season. But there's a reason he gets fewer appearances. What Benzema does better than Higuain is work well with Ronaldo. And that's exactly why we need someone like that at Spurs. And Soldado is that someone. To your second point, while I think Soldado brings a more than negligible aerial threat to the team--certainly more than Defoe or Ade--this really isn't a concern for me. The less lumping it forward and pumping crosses into the box we do the better. While it's a nice option, it's still an incredibly inefficient way to score goals, and we should focus on developing an incisive passing game at the expense of hinging our game plan on a Big Target Man.

Bryan: I'm willing to concede the Benzema-Higuain analogy. There are certainly some types of players that worker better with other types of players. I don't think we really know who or what Gareth Bale works best with though, because I'm still not sure we know what Gareth Bale is, but that's a debate for another time. My final point, and it's probably a fairly weak one, is that stylistically, I think Gomez game is better suited to the Premier League. I think Soldado can come to Spurs and score 15 goals, but I think he'll require a period of adjustment both to the speed of the game and the physicality. There's not going to be that adjustment period from Gomez. He is, at least physically, capable of contributing almost instantaneously.

Lennon's Eyebrow: I can't really respond to that in any definitive way. If we had to guess who would adapt quicker, you're right, Gomez has more physical tools to be a safer bet. But adapting to a new league is always a crap-shoot. Edin Dzeko came over after topping the scoring charts in the rough-and-tumble Bundesliga as a strong, physical striker with excellent aerial ability. He did not hit the ground the running, to say the least. Either one of Soldado or Gomez could come into the EPL and be awesome from the word go, or struggle horribly with the differences in gameplay. Ultimately, regardless of what Gareth Bale's ultimate identity as a player reveals itself to be, Soldado's the guy with the better track-record of being a well-rounded, team-focused striker. Who also happens to score 20 goals a season.

Bryan: Look, when it comes down to it, this whole discussion is moot. Mario Gomez has way better hair than Roberto Soldado. Your argument is per se invalid.

Lennon's Eyebrow: Man, it's not even close is it?

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