Last Friday marked two years to the day since Tanguy Ndombele signed on the dotted line at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Making a huge name for himself in France with Lyon, a host of Europe’s top clubs were linked with a summer move for the talented midfielder after some standout performances in Ligue 1 and the Champions League.
Subsequently impressing Mauricio Pochettino with his all-action displays for the French side, the youngster was right at the top of the Argentine’s summer shopping list as he looked to rebuild his Tottenham team and add another dimension to his midfield.
Spurs did indeed win the race for the player as they agreed on a club-record deal worth £63million, with the star signing a six-year contract in N17.
With foreign players always needing plenty of time to bed in to new surroundings and adapt to the pace and intensity of the Premier League, Ndombele made the best possible start with a crucial goal on his debut to help the Lilywhites turn the game on its head against Aston Villa.
Getting 90 minutes in the tank on the opening weekend of the league season, the summer signing only managed another three full games before Pochettino’s time at the club was brought to an end in November 2019.
Struggling with niggling injuries and his fitness in the opening weeks of the season, things didn’t improve for the player under Jose Mourinho as he watched on from the sidelines more often than not.
Only getting 64 minutes on the pitch after the Premier League restart in June, rumours from France about a summer transfer away from the club due to his relationship with the head coach continued to do the rounds after games.
Rather than cutting ties with the player after only one season, Ndombele, who held a meeting with chairman Daniel Levy about his future, put in the hard work over the summer months to become an undroppable under Mourinho.
Dazzling at times with his skill and quick feet bamboozling his opponents, Tottenham fans were wowed as they got to see the player edging back towards his very best.
Hailing the player after a stunning display away at Sheffield United where he netted a remarkable chip, Ndombele’s form soon started to decline towards the back end of the season and it saw interim head coach Ryan Mason drop him to the bench for the Carabao Cup final.
Getting a few minutes here and there at the end of matches after that, Ndombele unfortunately missed out on France’s squad for Euro 2020 and now he goes into the new season looking to prove a point.
Returning to pre-season training at Hotspur Way on Monday, the Frenchman will be looking to hit the ground running and catch Nuno Espirito Santo’s eye immediately.
Tottenham’s new manager knows what the midfielder is all about after watching him run riot in the 1-1 draw at Wolves back in December and the hope is that he will be able to replicate that performance on a consistent basis.
Already boasting some excellent midfield options in Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Giovani Lo Celso, Ndombele definitely has to step it up as it’s not clear yet on whether Espirito Santo will opt for two in midfield or three.
Oliver Skipp’s return from his successful loan spell at Norwich City also boosts the midfield numbers, while there is of course the option that new managing director of football Fabio Paratici adds another player to the ranks in that area of the pitch as Spurs look to see a big improvement after two disappointing seasons.
So far only completing the full 90 minutes nine times from his 54 Premier League appearances over the past two seasons, Tottenham, quite simply, need so much more from Ndombele in 2021/22.
With Pochettino and Mourinho struggling to get a tune out of him over a consistent period of time, Spurs fans will be hoping it’s third time lucky under the new boss.
Speaking to Spurs TV immediately after his appointment in the hotseat, Espirito Santo made it clear that he and his coaching staff improve players, as was the case during his four years at Wolves.
“Our philosophy is not only about me, it’s about staff, the coaching staff – it’s simple, we improve players, we try to make them better, to improve them every day and by that, it’s no matter which age the player is – young, old, experienced, no experience at all – it doesn’t matter,” he told the club’s official website.
“In our minds, we put the players in the middle and we see what we can do to make them better.
“How can we improve them? How can we find a better solution for them to make their job easier? How can we make them perform better?
“If we achieve that, our team will improve, our Club will improve and this is our philosophy.”
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Needing a big improvement on the pitch, the 47-year-old will hopefully be the man to get the very best out of Ndombele two years on from his move to Tottenham.
Coming to the capital in a club-record deal worth around £63m, Tottenham haven’t got value for money from the transfer deal at all so far and the Frenchman must start delivering sooner rather than later.
Perhaps a defining year for him at the club as he enters his third season at Spurs, failure to hit the heights over the coming months then Espirito Santo and Paratici may have a decision to make come next summer.
All connected with Tottenham will be praying that isn’t the case, however, given he has everything in his locker to be the driving force in the Spurs side.