Rewind twelve months ago, Tanguy Ndombele had joined Napoli on loan for the season after ex-manager Antonio Conte forced him to train alone or with the under 21’s in pre-season. Now in the present, and under new manager Ange Postecoglou, it seems he might be given a second chance at having a successful career at Spurs.
When the dynamic Frenchman joined us from Lyon in 2019 for a then-club-record fee under Mauricio Pochettino, it felt like a real statement signing that we had lured in one of Europe’s top midfield talents after the heartbreak that was the champions league final.
Finally, we thought Levy showed some sort of ambition in the transfer market after years of relative neglect.
To top it off he scored a fabulous goal from the edge of the box to get the game back on level terms and ultimately give us the momentum to go on and win the game.
After that moment the central midfielder’s Spurs career seemed to falter as he lost form under Poch and was publicly called out by Mourinho and Conte for being too lazy off the ball.
On the ball, Tanguy was and still is one of the very best in the league, his close control, flair and dribbling are just mesmerising to watch.
You only have to look up a video of him running rings around Mason Mount and Ngolo Kante, the outrageous flick he scored against Sheffield United, the way he sent James Ward Prowse to a different postcode with a Maradona turn, it was evidently clear ‘Ndomballer’ had serious potential.
Pure box office football. In the double pivot next to Hojberg under Jose, it masked up some of the problems that Tanguy has off the ball as the Dane was the one that mopped up everything in front of the defence.
Ndombele, since Jose’s departure went to France on a six-month loan and of course, spent last season as a rotation player for runaway Italian champions Napoli.
If you have been keeping up with preseason videos released by Spurs of training and watching Instagram stories from the players that haven’t been on international duty and returned to Hotspur way at the start of the month, you would have noticed a growing bromance between Ndombele and Yves Bissouma.
Both have been providing amusing content on their Instagrams of their antics in training and the pre-season tour so far which has led to a strong sense of optimism among the Spurs fanbase that Ndombele is far from the hood overhead, dejected face, poor body language version of himself over the last 18 months.
In training videos, and yes I am aware you shouldn’t get carried away with clips from training, he has looked assertive on the ball, using the body feints we’ve come to synonymise with him over the years, as well as actually running off the ball tracking back to prevent counter-attacks.
Ange has said that the player is ‘working hard’ in preparation for pre-season and re-iterated before the squad left for Australia, that ‘Tanguy has been good’ (via Football.London).
It fully seems that Ange has opened the door to a Ndombele career revival in N17.
Will Ndombele get another chance at Tottenham?
Since Rodrigo Bentancur’s injury in the 4-1 loss against Leicester in February, we haven’t had that midfielder with any sort of presence in the opposition half, whether that be ball-carrying, creativity or finishing.
Having Skipp and Hojberg in a midfield two towards the end of last season was like having two square pegs in round holes.
Having one would be fine, having 2 very similar players would just be ineffective as we often saw. With Ange playing a 4-3-3 formation with a number 6, number 8 and number 10 in his midfield, it is evident that Ndombele fits the bill of an Ange number 8, especially if he is willing to apply himself more off the ball.
In a midfield trio of Yves Bissouma as the 6 and Maddison as the 10, Ndombele would find himself high up the pitch, predominantly in the left half-space behind Son or whoever might be on the left and Kane/Richarlison in the middle.
Unlike Conte where our midfield would typically have their back to the opposition goal, it is clear that Ange wants his midfielders to play on the front foot. Something which will benefit Tanguy as we will have over 65 per cent of possession most of the time.
He will have the freedom to roam and do what he does best, driving through defences aiding in the build-up for goals as well as making those attacking runs off the ball into the box.
After picking up a knock in training the night before the West Ham game, Ndombele wasn’t included in the two pre-season matchday sides, but hopefully he will return for the next game.
I know for me personally, seeing Tanguy Ndombele not fulfilling his potential over the last few years has been sad, especially considering those moments of stardom he used to bring on the ball.
Having an icon in Gareth Bale saying he was a ‘phenomenal footballer and a real talent’ (Sky Sports) and an opposition player like Declan Rice saying he ‘was one of the hardest players to play against’ (talkSPORT) means there is a real player in there.
I genuinely think Ange is the man to extract the most output out of Ndombele and I am looking forward eagerly to the start of the season with this midfield.
Before Ange I was in the camp of ‘let’s get 15-20 million for a player that is useless to us’ but now I have faith in Ange and if he wants to give Ndombele a second chance, then so do I.
Will we get to see the midfield trio that we all want to see? And do you think Tanguy has a long-term future in North London?
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