Dimitar Berbatov has admitted that he was surprised by Tanguy Ndombele’s struggles at Tottenham last season as he had high hopes for the midfielder when he signed.
The Frenchman, who Spurs shattered their transfer record to sign last summer, has struggled to earn a run of games in the side since Jose Mourinho arrived in North London.
Reports have linked the 23-year-old with a move away from Spurs (Sky Sports Italia via Sempre Inter), although it has been suggested that the Lilywhites still believe he can come good at the club (Football.London).
Berbatov revealed that he expected much more from Ndombele following his exploits at Lyon in the 2018/19 campaign.
Speaking to Football.London, the former Tottenham striker said: “I was surprised he didn’t have a good first season because I used to watch him in Lyon and I was really happy to see him go to Spurs.
“I don’t know why he didn’t get so much playing time, whether it was because he was injured or didn’t train well or the manager just didn’t pick him.
“I don’t know if he’s going to stay in the team but I like him and I thought it was a great signing for Spurs, which is why I’ve been surprised he hasn’t played so much.
“He has the qualities to do well. Hopefully, he’ll have a frank discussion with Jose and if he’s going to stay, he’ll play more.
“At the end of the day, it comes down sometimes to a difficult truth of whether the manager doesn’t like you. If that’s the case, it doesn’t matter what you do. Sorry, it is, that’s the truth sometimes.
“Hopefully that’s not the case with him because I think he can bring a lot to the table.”
Ndombele’s work-rate and commitment have been questioned of late, which is something that Berbatov also had to deal with during his playing days due to the striker’s languid style.
However, he insisted that he was always fiercely driven to become the best player he could be, while also admitting that he was helped by the trust his managers at Spurs showed in him.
The 39-year-old added: “First and foremost it comes down to your own motivation. You need to have that personal motivation to develop and it depends on your personal goal.
“My personal goal was to reach my summit of success, my top, and that ended up being United, the top of my mountain.
“It depends in the moment of when you need to follow your path. If you have that ambition, it’s going to be easy.
“If you don’t, it’s going to be more difficult because you’re going to put a lot of stress in your head and questions. Am I doing ok? Am I doing good? What can I do better? It will drive you crazy.
“Then comes the role of a manager. If you’re lucky enough to be managed by a manager who really likes you, like I was with Martin Jol and Juande Ramos then it’s going to be easier for you.
“Then you know that they like you but you can’t just do whatever you want. You just think the opposite.
“You just think that now I’m not going to let them down. I’m going to go out there and do everything I can to make them smile because they trust me.
“If you do the opposite and do whatever you want then that’s not good.”
Spurs Web Opinion
Over the course of his career, Jose Mourinho has not even spared superstars like Samuel Eto and Cristiano Ronaldo if they were not doing the roles that were asked of them both on and off the ball. Therefore, it is ridiculous to think that the Spurs boss would be accepting of Ndombele’s apparent lack of fitness and intensity off the ball, just because of the ability the midfielder possesses on it.
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