Tottenham Hotspur have a problem with their record signing, Tanguy Ndombele, that is no secret. His first season has been plagued with injuries and a lack of fitness, something that is only made worse by the Frenchman’s transition from Ligue 1 to the Premier League.
If it was just a problem of injuries, I would not be worried at all. A lot of the time, injuries can be chalked up to bad luck. However, Ndombele’s issues run far deeper.
If you actually watch him for ten minutes while he is on the pitch. There seems to be a lack of desire to track back, tackle, win the ball, and put himself on the line for his team.
He is what I would call a luxury player, much like Paul Pogba at Man United. He won’t work harder than anyone else on the pitch and run through brick walls for you, but he has a frustrating amount of natural talent.
In my opinion, there is only one way to get the best out of these players, give them an ultimatum. Give him a sink or swim moment. Sit him down and outlined exactly what is expected of him and what will happen if he does not meet those requirements.
A lack of form requires an arm around the shoulder. A lack of effort requires something far more.
That being said, I also believe that Tottenham must sign a class ball-winning defensive midfielder in order to get the best out of Ndombele.
I would compare the situation to Dembele at Spurs a few years ago. Would Pochettino have seen such great form from Dembele without Wanyama, no. Spurs need that player who is happy to sit in front of the defence and win the ball back all day.
However, just as Dembele used to, Ndombele must be prepared to do his bit for the team. Mourinho may not expect him to make the most tackles on the pitch, but a central midfielder in the Premier League simply must offer non-stop effort and protection.
Anything short of this in his second season and Spurs may as well sell up.
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