Both Tom Ince and Wilfried Zaha are likely to be much talked about figures this transfer month with Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal all keen, yet despite Zaha's seemingly slightly greater allure is it Blackpool's Ince that looks the better capture? Simon Bunn investigates.
Three months ago I conducted an article discussing who the better Championship prospect is; Blackpool’s Tom Ince or Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha. Both players were in lustful form and their upcoming names were bounding around the Premiership like a Rhinoceros that had escaped a local zoo.
At the time of writing there was little to separate the two young attacking English talents. Ince held a record of 6 goals in 8 games, with 6 assists, compared to Zaha’s 4 goals in 10 and 1 assist. Ince was managing a goal every 3.33 shots, whereas Zaha needed an average of 4.75 attempts to register a goal.
Entering the crazed football shopping month of January the Rhinoceros, carrying their names, is bounding about more recklessly than ever, leaving large warm droppings in various media ‘rumour mills’ on a near daily basis. It is only polite therefore to report on the pair’s progress since my last recorded perusal.
Back then, although admittedly close, I suggested that it was Blackpool winger Tom Ince that was just about edging the battle of the division’s two hottest prospects. Roughly 15 games on it would appear that Ince has widened the gap over Zaha, in terms of statistical performance, this also despite Zaha playing for a club in more consistent form.
Tom Ince has continued to display an impressive knack of scoring from midfield, netting 13 goals in 24 games, as well as providing 10 assists. Zaha on the other hand has struggled to add to his goal scoring tally but, has slightly upped his assist rate. The Palace forward now shows 5 goals in 25 games and 4 assists. The fact that Ince boasts 8 more goals than his rival may well stem from the highly technical fact that he shoots at goal far more than Zaha. Ince has had 64 shots at goal this season with 34 on target, compared to Zaha’s 39 shots at goal with 21 on target. In terms of goals to shots ratio Ince also fairs far better. The Blackpool man is producing a goal with every 4.92 shots, whereas Zaha requires 7.8 shots to score.
Only the most easily shocked would be surprised to see either of these men make the switch to the Premiership in January, it is likely that a number of clubs will be making stern enquiries about both. Ince has been heavily linked with Liverpool but, it is perhaps Zaha that appears even more sought after, with Manchester United, Arsenal and Spurs just a tiny cluster of clubs reportedly preparing large bids to secure the players future services.
Although there is no doubt that both players offer exciting futures, for me it is Ince that attracts the bigger appeal, at this moment in time, for a Premiership club. As well as his superior statistical performance (discussed above) he would be more gettable. Engulfed in a serious promotion challenge, and with finances more secure nowadays, Palace would be in no rush, or need, to sell Zaha. In which case I could only see him moving if a hefty amount of cash, and perhaps a loan back deal, was dangled in front of theLondonclub.Blackpoolhowever are in a position where they may feel that to cash in on Ince would be the best move forward. He could cost anywhere in the region of £5-10m, a bargain compared to the prices being touted about for Zaha, and for me he would be the better buy.
Who do you think would be the better purchase?
image: © joncandy