Tottenham Hotspur – with problems off the field and on – currently find themselves in the midst of a very dark tunnel after three dismal defeats to Liverpool, Brighton, and Chelsea.
However, somewhere in the seeming never-ending darkness, is a light. A light that may hold the key to Spurs’ future if used correctly.
Tanguy Ndombele is the name.
Football, if you strip it down to the bare core of its very existence, is staged for entertainment. Forget the corruption, heartbreak, arguments, allegations, and feuds.
Ndombele is a swift and refreshing reminder of this: the sheer audacity of his tricks, the technical ability that is off the charts, and the skills that dazzle his opponents on the regular.
Watching Ndombele in midfield is one of those gratifying experiences which make you love little aspects of the game even more. The combination of instinct and intricacy, the manner in which the ball daintily rolls off the French internationals foot like he’s barely even trying.
When he gives the ball away for trying a flick or trying an ambitious pass that no one saw — you forgive him. Simply because he’s trying to do something positive, a trait that can’t be said about most of Mourinho’s side at the moment.
He can find himself in the most difficult situation, crowded out by opposition, but somehow find a way to escape. The midfielder’s daft technical skills, underrated strength, and the also the ability to pass the ball at the right time allows him to do this.
But the midfielder’s aesthetically pleasing way of playing football is only a small chapter in his book. He’s not a one trick show pony, a player that pleases on the eye but has no end product and therefore can’t make it to the upper echelons of the game.
He has shown recently, especially with his audacious genius backwards flick against Sheffield United, that goals and assists may be an aspect to his game that he can add. That can take him to the very top.
Pierre Emile-Hojbjerg adds an important steel to the midfield. Harry Kane and Son-Heung Min are the world-class thrust in the final third. But Ndombele – 24-years-old – can be the portal for Tottenham’s future.
He’s flourishing this season, grabbing all the plaudits after a difficult first season. However, he can be more. The team’s overall negative approach of recent times means he is limited in his ability to effect games.
In an ideal situation, Ndombele plays constantly on the half-turn, luring in opposition pressure but has enough space and movement around him for it have a purpose. But, too often, he has to receive the ball with his back to goal or to pick up a loose ball. Basically, pointless positions where the team doesn’t have the shape or an intention to play off him.
If Mourinho wants to turn the tide, the squad has to play directly to his strengths.
Ndombele can propel Tottenham into their new era, all while putting something in Spurs fans that may have escaped them in recent seasons: fun.
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