Tanguy Ndombele

Like many a Premier League newbie, Tanguy Ndombele found the adaptation to English football tough. However, his performances in 2020/21 have seen a marked turnaround. 

The 23-year-old had to deal with some public criticism from José Mourinho over his attitude and performances. He had opportunities to jump ship over the summer but elected to stay at the Tottenham Stadium.

Ndombele struggled for consistency and fitness having moved from Lyon in 2019 as a club-record signing. As seen in Tottenham’s All or Nothing documentary, he was helped by Daniel Levy, the staff, and his French-speaking teammates while he appeared committed to finally prove himself. 

This season, Ndombele has been a superb box-to-box midfield operator as Spurs now find themselves top of the Premier League table only a year after Mourinho joined the Lilywhites. 

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The midfielder is one of the first names on the team sheet as he has started eight of their 10 Premier League games this season. Par for the course, a goal and assist alongside fine performances in their biggest wins against both Manchester sides makes for good reading. 

Be that as it may, Paul Pogba was re-signed by Manchester United in 2016 for a then-record fee to bolster Mourinho’s squad in his first season at Old Trafford. The Frenchman’s inconsistency means he continues to struggle with his true role in the United midfield to date.  

Crucially, Ndombele has solidified his own little moments of quality to become a consistent force in the Spurs midfield. Criticism of which Pogba failed to rise above under Mourinho, and struggles to find at United.

Pogba was on the bench for Mourinho’s final United game at Liverpool, and pertinently bears the role of benchwarmer at the moment for Solskjaer.

On the other hand, Ndombele’s strength, explosiveness, skill, and vision have come to the fore in the Premier League. His qualities have been vital as a midfielder who won’t lose possession in deep, dangerous areas and has the sharpness of mind to release key passes that result in quick counters.

Tanguy Ndombele
(L-R) Tottenham Hotspur’s French midfielder Tanguy Ndombele, Linzer ASK’s Austrian midfielder Rene Renner and Linzer ASK’s Australian midfielder James Holland vie for the ball during the UEFA Europa League Group J football match between Linzer ASK and Tottenham Hotspur in Linz, on December 3, 2020. (Photo by VLADIMIR SIMICEK / AFP) (Photo by VLADIMIR SIMICEK/AFP via Getty Images)

Given regular minutes and performing to his strengths, the France International is playing with confidence and has won the support of the fans.

New signing Pierre-Emile Højbjerg also helps take the defensive pressure off, making Ndombele a regular out-ball when they transition from defence.

“I don’t think we have seen the best of Tanguy Ndombele yet. I’m on the right track but there’s still more to come,” Ndombele said recently

“I feel better. That comes from playing consecutive matches. It’s good for a player to have a good rhythm like that and get into shape. Last year I didn’t have that so much. This year I do so it’s better for the team and it’s better for me.”

North London Derby Weekend

Thus, things would get much better this weekend should Ndombele enjoy his outing against the Arsenal midfield shorn of the services of Thomas Partey

Tanguy Ndombele
Ndombele’s qualities have come to the fore in Mourinho’s first full season at Tottenham. (Tottenham FC via Getty Images)

Pertinently, The Gunners have looked utterly clueless when opponents surrender possession – which Mourinho is expected to do – and Ndombele’s role would be to release the likes of Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min on the counter-attack. 

Simply put, another good performance in the Derby will go a long way in confirming Ndombele’s revival to stamp his place in Tottenham folklore.


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.


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