Tottenham fans are still waiting to see the very best of Tanguy Ndombele almost ten months on from his club-record move to north London. Highly criticised for his woeful defending and tracking back when attempting to stop Wolves’ Pedro Neto, the Frenchman was then hauled off at the break in their next game against Burnley after not having an impact on the match. Jose Mourinho was highly critical of his player in his post-match press conference at Turf Moor and it left many supporters fearing for the 23-year-old’s future at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium beyond the end of the season.
Mourinho and Spurs have yet to see the “new Pogba” so far this season but he does possess all the qualities to become a key player for the Lilywhites over the coming years. While his time at Lyon was deemed a huge success, Ndombele did come in for criticism from time to time due to his inconsistent displays as Genesio looked to get the very best out of the player.
Jose Mourinho said “I’m not going to run away and I have to say he has had enough time to come to a different level. I know the Premier League is difficult, and some players take a long time to adapt to a different league. But a player with his potential has to give us more than he is giving us, especially when you see how Lucas, Lo Celso and those players are playing. I was expecting more in the first half from him. He played very, very well. We played without a positional midfield player – no Winks, no [Eric] Dier. But Ndombele and Eriksen played so, so well. Totally in control. The football – the passing, the movement, the turning – was fluid. They never played back passes and always looked forward to play in between the lines or to the wingers. It was fantastic quality of football.”
While it does take time for foreign players to adapt to a new country and the pace of the Premier League, the powerful midfielder has yet to justify his huge price tag and that’s what will be concerning for all in N17. With Mourinho’s handling of the player not going down well with some since taking over from Mauricio Pochettino in November, it is worth nothing that he has labelled him a “fantastic talent” and he also stated he was “absolutely phenomenal” against Norwich City just after Christmas.
Questions about the player’s application in games isn’t exactly something that is new following his previous spells in France with Amiens and Lyon. In fact, Sullivan Martinet, a former teammate of Ndombele at Guingamp, explained that the player “did not really give the impression of wanting to surpass oneself” when asked about his release from the club as a youngster. Prior to his move to Amiens, Ndombele had trials with Caen, Auxerre and Angers but all three elected against offering him a contract due to concerns over his weight. Outstanding in his two years at Lyon after rising up the leagues with Amiens, Ndombele has showed flashes of his quality but he has not been able to demonstrate it on a consistent basis for the Lilywhites. His first season at the club has been a mixture of moments of brilliance and inconsistent displays, coupled with niggling injuries and fitness issues that have stopped him from hitting the heights week in, week out. Having excelled at Amiens after a slow start, the midfielder joined Lyon on a season-long loan deal with a view to a permanent move after catching Bruno Genesio’s eye. Initially starting out in the fifth tier of French football, Ndombele was now shining at the top with seven assists from his 35 league games in the 2017/18 season but he still came in for criticism for his performances and was sometimes left out of the squad or named on the bench.
Former Arsenal and Chelsea midfielder Emmanuel Petit stated that player wasn’t consistent enough and that he could be brilliant one game and then average the next. This is something Genesio also agreed with as he earned rave reviews against Man City in the Champions League before disappointing against lower opposition in the league.
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