Tanguy Ndombele Is a Special Talent & Deserves Patience From Tottenham Fans

​When the comunicado oficial of Tanguy Ndombele’s £55m arrival to Tottenham blessed our Twitter timelines, there was a significant buzz surrounding the signing among the online Lilywhite faithful.

This was a player who’d gained a lot of traction within ‘Football Twitter’ following his Champions League displays against Manchester City and Barcelona the previous season. 

So, following heartbreak in Madrid barely a month prior, Ndombele and fellow summer arrival Giovani Lo Celso were set to spearhead Tottenham’s second cycle under Mauricio Pochettino…right?

Tanguy Ndombele,Mauricio Pochettino

Less than a year on, with football forced into a hiatus, Pochettino’s unemployed, Jose Mourinho is at the wheel, the new boss hasn’t been very nice to Ndombele and there are genuine Spurs fans demanding the club cut their losses with the Frenchman and ditch him in the summer, or whenever the transfer window reopens. 

Overall, it’s fair to say things quite haven’t gone to plan.

Amid a wretched campaign for Tottenham, it’s been a mightily frustrating one for the player once tagged ‘El Feinte‘ during his Guingamp academy days.

Following an inspired second-half display on his Premier League debut against Aston Villa and an impressive performance in tough circumstances away at City – both games he started (and finished) – Ndombele sustained a thigh injury which kept him out Spurs’ next two league games. 

And ever since that first minor issue back in August, the 23-year-old has struggled – completing just one Premier League encounter from start to finish since September. 

Pedro Neto

His continued absences certainly led to frustration among Spurs fans before in recent weeks, his ‘half-hearted’ displays have seemingly triggered a nerve among those who rightly like seeing their players ‘put themself about’. 

The clip where Ndombele, who had just come on as a substitute, made a pretty woeful attempt to dispossess Wolves’ Pedro Neto before rather casually attempting to track the Portuguese starlet as he weaved past countless Spurs defenders gained a significant amount of attention within the fanbase. And a week later, Jamie Carragher’s superb analysis of the Frenchman’s first-half display against Burnley on Monday Night Football led to the wider football community taking notice. 

It was a five-minute analysis sparked by comments made by Mourinho following his side’s 1-1 draw at Turf Moor. The Spurs boss was quoted by Football London as saying: “I know that the Premier League is very difficult and some players it takes time. Some players it takes a long time to adapt to a different league, but a player with this potential and responsibility has to give us more than he is giving us.”

Mourinho’s scathing analysis also came two weeks after Mateo Kovacic had given Ndombele his cliché ‘welcome to the Premier League’ game at Stamford Bridge in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over their London rivals.

Tanguy Ndombele,Ross Barkley

The main factor in Ndombele’s acclimatisation struggles remains to be seen: is he still dealing with a niggling injury? Is his unique gait causing a problem? Is it an unwillingness to perform – he had attitude issues during his Amiens days? Or is it the simple case of adjusting to a new environment and playing in a division that’s almost incomparable to Ligue 1?

The latter seems the most likely and it’s starting to make a little more sense as to why Pochettino said it’d take Ndombele two years for him to fully settle in north London despite just scoring a peach on his debut against Villa.

It’s been his performances out of possession that have seen fans jump down the Frenchman’s throat and while recovery running wasn’t exactly his forte at Lyon, we were seeing a much more athletic footballer off the ball than the current Spurs iteration. 

Nevertheless, the vast amount of criticism he’s received would make anyone think Ndombele was the second-coming of Didier Zokora with the ball at his feet. 

FC Barcelona v Olympique Lyonnais - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg

The Frenchman is quite the opposite – he’s one of the most naturally gifted footballers on the planet. 

Ndombele’s an edge of your seat footballer who you’d genuinely pay to watch even if he’s half-fit and can only muster a 15-minute cameo. 

His variation, unpredictability and immense ball-manipulation make him one of the most press-resistant and creative players around – assists don’t define creativity – while he’s able to penetrate defensive lines at will with crisp and perfectly weighted vertical passes as well as graceful but equally powerful driving runs. 

The stats below would also suggest that despite his struggles in defensive transition, his actual defensive output this season has been quite underrated: winning over eight duels and making 1.62 tackles per 90 minutes – which leads Tottenham midfielders.

​​From an ‘on the ball’ perspective, it’s hard to single out a game where Ndombele hasn’t teased his generational talent. 

On the European stage, Ndombele shone against Red Star (twice), while his brilliance in the opening 30 minutes against Bayer​n – in which he should’ve scored and had two assists – generally had Lilywhites around the world shouting “WE’VE GOT OUR SPURS BACK”.

They hadn’t.

And following his fine two displays to start the Premier League campaign, the Frenchman also produced a man of the match performance against Norwich at the end of December – ironically his only full 90 minutes in the league since the trip to the Etihad.

It was a performance that led to Canaries midfielder Alexander Tettey saying this about Ndombele on a Norweigian podcast: “Ndombele was very good, he had an incredible technical repertoire. When he had the ball at his feet he could dance around you on the football pitch. After the match, I was like, oh, okay then”


Tettey named the Frenchman as his finest opponent in the Premier League this season, by the way.

His cameo performance at Anfield back in October was one that went under the radar but you’ll struggle to find a superior performance off the bench this season. Following 70 minutes of Liverpool dominance after Harry Kane’s opener, Ndombele completely changed the dynamic of the contest, forcing the Reds onto the backfoot with his commanding presence – something he didn’t show against Burnley – and outright talent on the ball. He should’ve set-up Spurs’ equaliser following a beautiful switch of play out to Danny Rose but the full-back fluffed his lines after cutting onto his weaker right foot.

Oh, and his substitute performance in the 2-0 win over City wasn’t bad either; creating Spurs’ second with a neat feint – a trademark move hence his El Feinte nickname – inside to outfox Rodri before playing an inch-perfect pass in behind for goalscorer Son Heung-Min. A lightning-quick stepover to fool Rodri once more in the closing stages rounded off a dazzling display from the bench.

In what’s been portrayed as a massively disappointing campaign, the Frenchman has still made four goal contributions in under 1,000 minutes of Premier League action. 

Yes, his fitness issues are concerning but how can you give up on such a gargantuan talent after barely a year? There’s a reason why PSG and Barcelona are both reportedly chasing the Frenchman despite an underwhelming campaign and why Mourinho has singled out Ndombele for criticism on two separate occasions. 


The Portuguese boss knows that Ndombele may well be the most important man in shaping his spell in north London and is trying his absolute best to squeeze all the potential out of him. Mourinho, like everyone at the club, is desperate to see the 23-year-old succeed.

This is a player who undoubtedly has all the talent to be a damn world-beater and among the Premier League’s finest at some point. We can’t forget that his debut campaign has come during a dysfunctional period for the club and he’s already been forced to adjust to the demands of two different coaches preaching two separate philosophies. Not to mention Spurs’ absence of a functioning defensive midfielder. 

So, for all the Spurs fans crying out for an heir to Mousa Dembele’s throne, just relax, you signed him last summer, you’ve just got to give him a little bit of time.