Opinion: Four players I’m excited to see work under Antonio Conte at Spurs

Antonio Conte
Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Antonio Conte has done some tremendous work throughout his career. He’s won many trophies, league titles, individual awards for his work in the dugout, and really helped certain players to reach their ceilings.

Now that he’s at Tottenham, there’s a lot of players that I’m excited to see him linkup with, but, in particular, four stand out to me, for some reasons that I’ll dive into:

Harry Kane

Harry Kane has had quite the tough start to the season. After failing to move to Manchester City in the summer, Kane hasn’t been able to hit the ground running for Tottenham yet this season, and, has recieved a lot of criticism, including from myself.

I don’t regret being critical of him at all. His effort levels seemed down, and, you had to wonder where his head was really at.

However, a few weeks back, I wrote about how I felt like Jose Mourinho’s sacking was the start of Kane’s decline in both form and effort. He clearly enjoyed a very strong relationship with the Portuguese manager, regardless of what you may think of Jose, Kane had tons of admiration and respect for him.

I got the sense that it was basically a last straw moment for Kane, sacking the coach he had so much respect for 6 days before a cup final, which he was brought here to win. It’s understandable why Kane would feel upset, again regardless of your thoughts on Mourinho, you must admit that given the context of the regard Kane holds him in.

When I wrote the piece, I mentioned, I wasn’t sure it was salavagable. I thought we might need to accept Kane’s heart’s not at Tottenham anymore and accept a rebuild and life without him before things got uglier.

That was because, I didn’t imagine us being able to bring a world class, trophy-laiden manager like Antonio Conte about a month later.

Conte’s arrival changes everything regarding Kane’s future at Tottenham Hotspur.

Alasdair Gold of football.london broke the news on the day that Conte was officially announced as Tottenham manager, that Harry Kane was really excited to work under the Italian, and was really impressed by the ambition this appointment showed from the club. 

It seems like really, Spurs ending up with a man who was at best 7th or 8th on their manager shortlist didn’t sit well with Kane at all, after he’d already expressed frustrations about the club’s (lack of) ambition.

Whilst I think Kane, as someone who’s meant to be a leader, shouldn’t be excused for a lack of effort just because he was frustrated at his situation at Spurs, it does put things into perspective.

The reality is now, the past is the past, and Harry seems reinvigorated by the idea of working under a proven world class manager like Conte. Spurs will be better for it if he starts hitting peak form again, we can’t lie to ourselves.

Conte helped the likes of Lukaku, Diego Costa, and others see some of the best form of their careers in his time with them, and, I think Conte, seeing how they flourished as a duo under Mourinho, will really look to revive that Son and Kane connection, looking at what he did with Lautaro Martinez and Lukaku at Inter Milan, I think he’ll see the potential to do something just as good, if not better with Son and Kane.

If Kane is truly motivated and excited by the appointment of Conte, this relationship can blossom into something special.

Sergio Reguilon

As someone who is quite an avid fan of Sergio, this one really stands out to me.

Sergio is a fullback who’s got so much to offer in an attacking sense, and, the managers we’ve had since buying him from Real Madrid I don’t feel like have allowed him to really showcase some of those qualities to the fullest extent.

Reguilon made his name at Sevilla as a fullback with bundles of energy and plenty to offer in the final third, this is a player who averaged 1.4 key passes per game during Sevilla’s run to Europa League glory, and he was named in that seasons Europa League team of the tournament for his efforts. He averaged 1.3 key passes per game in La Liga that season also.

Look at his heatmap from a La Liga campaign, he has some much to offer up and down the pitch, and I feel like we’ve yet to really take advantage of that.

In Antonio Conte’s wingback role, I think Sergio can flourish, it will allow him to be the best version of himself for me.

Also, Conte’s work with wingbacks in the past can’t go unnoticed. He’s allowed the likes of Marcos Alonso, Victor Moses, Matteo Darmian, Achraf Hakimi, and others to flourish as wingbacks in ways they never had before. He’s built a bit of a reputation for making magic happen with wingbacks.

Also worth mentioning, that the summer we signed Sergio, Inter Milan (managed by Antonio Conte) saw Sergio as a primary target to be their new left back. So, Conte’s held interest in this player before.

I think a lot of signs point to Regi really hitting new heights under Conte.

Tanguy Ndombele

I don’t think there’s a player/manager relationship with Antonio Conte’s Tottenham that has as much potential as Conte with Tanguy.

Ndombele is an incredibly gifted midfielder with the world at his feet, and I think Conte has the chance to finally let that completely shine through.

Based on reports of Mourinho and his staff not seeing fitness as a big focus in training and players feeling like they lost an edge in that aspect under him, and also the fact that we were 20th in distance covered under Nuno, I have to say I feel like Ndombele’s going to have a complete, proper fitness routine for the first time in awhile.

Ndombele’s fitness has certainly improved a lot since he was on the fringes of Jose Mourinho’s plans in the summer of 2020. However, there’s still growth there to be made.

Antonio Conte took Chelsea from 17th in distance covered the season prior to his arrival, to 3rd in that category in his first season in charge. 

Conte’s greater focus on pressing and fitness + his great coaching ability could really allow Tanguy to flourish as a player.

As much as Ndombele has settled into that number 10 role, I think ideally we need to get him back playing as more of a #8 like he did in his best days at Lyon. We need him to be in the pivot.

That way, we can add more creativity to our team by getting a proper number 10 in that role and moving Ndombele back. Improving Ndombele’s fitness and sharpness will allow him to move into a deeper lying role with more responsibilities.

Also for me, if used correctly, Ndombele will be at his best as a number 8, there’s a reason he was tipped as the replacement for Mousa Dembele.

Also worth mentioning that Inter Milan (managed by Conte at the time) allegedly made a serious push to sign Tanguy when he was on the fringes of Mourinho’s squad at Spurs. So, Conte wanted to get his hands on him before, and, now he has, except at Tottenham.

I think Conte could genuinely be the best thing to ever happen to Tanguy, and this could be a real turning point for Ndombele at Spurs, which sees him really hit his potential. I’m a huge fan of Tanguy and I’m excited to see what Conte can do with him.

Cristian Romero

Cristian, at least for me, has enjoyed a great start to life at Tottenham since joining from Atalanta in the summer.

The clean sheets haven’t been coming in bunches for him and our backline, but, that’s far from the fault of Cuti.

This season, in the Premier League, Romero is averaging:

  • 1.7 interceptions per game
  • 2.3 tackles per game
  • 2.4 clearances per game

Romero also has won 69% of his total duels, making him a dominant figure in the backline. He’s yet to even record an error leading to shot, another impressive stat.

Romero already has all the makings of an amazing center back. Now, combine that with a manager in Conte who’s really helped elevate the levels of center backs like Skriniar, Bastoni, De Vrji, etc, and you’ve got quite an exciting duo.

Romero thrived in Gian Paolo Gasperini’s three at the back system at Atalanta last season, winning Serie A defender of the year, which is notable when you consider Conte mainly uses a 3 at the back system.

Romero is already one of Tottenham’s better players, I believe pairing him with Conte will only help to elevate his game and continue to make strides.

Conte’s arrival in N17 represents the start of a new chapter for Tottenham, and I think, these four, in particular, will benefit from that.

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