Updated: Jul 31, 2022
"The £55million arrival of Tanguy Ndombele from Olympique Lyonnais is not just the most important football signing of the summer, but the loudest statement about the direction of any club for years." - a journalist in an Independent article wrote in the summer of 2019. He was right, but probably not in the way he meant to be.
On paper, what a signing. One of the hottest players in Europe at the time, young and clearly talented beyond belief. Tottenham, somehow, managed to sign him from Lyon for the princely sum of £54.5 million plus up to just shy of £9 million in potential add on fees if certain targets are reached during his time at Spurs. The price is one thing, but the wages he was given is quite another. £200k a week. The same as Harry Kane. The same as Harry Kane!!!!
“His expression during Levy's attempt at an inspiring motivational talk during the ALL OR NOTHING documentary said it all. Two completely different people with no common ground.”
It started off well. In Ndombele's first game for Tottenham at the start of the 2019 season he scored and helped Spurs fight back to a 3-1 win versus Aston Villa. Did it go downhill after that game? I can't think of many better games he had in a Spurs shirt. Although the talent is clearly there for all to see, the attitude was most certainly not. The combined skills and experience of Tottenham managers Pochettino, Mason, Mourinho, Nuno and Antonio Conte could not get him going. The cringeworthy effort of Tottenham Chairman Daniel Levy in a televised moment did not work either. HIs expression during Levy's attempt at an inspiring motivational talk during the ALL OR NOTHING documentary said it all. Two completely different people, with no common ground whatsoever.
It hasn't been all bad. There have been some moments of pure brilliance from the Frenchman that will live long in the memory, like the blind flick against Sheffield United that just nestled into the bottom corner over the flummoxed Dean Henderson. Tanguy clearly meant it, and there's few that would even attempt it. Perhaps his nonchalant attitude towards the game actually inspires him on occasions such as this, not seeming to care if he is criticised must make it easier to attempt the unconventional. But these occasions have been few and far between. After 3 years, 5 managers and an unremarkable half season loan back to Lyon, his time must be up at Spurs. Surely, he has to go this transfer window. Definitely, his departure will be at a large financial loss for Tottenham.
Hopefully those add ons are mostly performance based at least.
But hang on a minute, history is beginning to show that this transfer may have been a blessing in disguise. Yes Tottenham stand to lose Nbig on Ndombele - but his signing has contributed to one man stepping aside from the majority of his involvement in the sanctioning and identifying of transfer targets for the North London club.....
Ndombele was a Daniel Levy signing and, by his high standards of frugality, an extremely embarrassing one at that. This is the man who has prided himself on buying young, talented youth with the intention to develop and eventually sell at profit. All the while, maintaining a strict wage structure that is seldom broken. After this signing however, and at a key point in the history of the club with the new stadium demanding elite level football, it looks like Levy's confidence has been broken too. Time for a change, and kudos for Levy for identifying the need for a Director of Football. Even more praise is deserved for securing one of the best available for the role.
So along comes Fabio Paratici, barely 2 weeks after leaving his 11 year post at Juventus. During his time there he was responsible for bringing in some of the biggest names in football such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba and Andreas Pirlo - the latter two were brought in on free transfers. Having a man who knows the business of football so well, and who boasts a wide range of contacts throughout the footballing world has so far proved to be very successful for Tottenham. His signing of Cristian Romero has been a masterstroke in shoring up an otherwise flimsy Tottenham defence, and the signings of Rodrigo Bentacur and Dejan Kulusevski from his old club Juventus in January 2022 helped propel Spurs into a key place in the Champions League for the following season. What has been the most impressive for all these signings is how well they have settled into the team and within the Premier League - which can be so difficult as Spurs found out with Ndombele. So despite how badly he has failed for the Lilywhites, his signing brought a change in the way things are done for Spurs. So far, this change is bringing a great deal of excitement for Spurs fans. Time will tell, but the future is looking bright for Tottenham Hotspur.