Tottenham breaks the bank for Tanguy Ndombele

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Tottenham Hotspur have signed midfielder Tanguy Ndombele for what is described as a “club-record £65m” from Lyon.

The 22-year-old, first mooted as a Tottenham target last month, has penned a five-year deal, and according to Sky Sports, Spurs have the option to extend it by a further year.

Ndombele had a medical at a north London hospital yesterday before completing the paperwork for his move at Tottenham’s training ground.

Lyon have made a “staggering” £58m profit on Ndombele, whom they bought from lowly French side Amiens for £7m just 12 months ago.

Although the official Spurs website didn’t go into the details of the move, talkSPORT reported that they will pay Lyon £55m, plus “a further £10m in add-ons”, a figure that breaks the club’s previous transfer record of £42m, paid to Ajax for Davinson Sanchez two years ago.

Ndombele was also on Manchester United’s radar and the Red Devils “failed with a late push” to sign the France international.

Apparently Tottenham had to overcome “late interest” from United and it was the intervention of Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino that proved decisive with the Argentine “playing a key role in convincing the midfielder to reject a switch to Old Trafford”.

Tottenham have also signed Jack Clarke from Leeds United for £8.5m, although the 18-year-old winger will return to the Championship club on a season-long loan.

Speaking to the Spurs website, Clarke said he was “delighted to sign for such a top club”, and then looked to the future: “I just want to carry on from where I left off at Leeds, kick on even more and then hopefully [following his loan] make an impact big enough to be in and around the team.” 

Five years ago, Tanguy (pronounced Tan-gee) Ndombele was released from the Guingamp academy at 16 years old, At the time, he had no club and even thought that football might be over for him. He had one last go at it in Amiens but in his first season there, he hardly played in the French fifth division with the reserves!

However, little by little he got his confidence and mojo back. Ndombele became a key player for the first team in Ligue 2 and helped Amiens earn promotion to the top flight in 2017 for the first time in their 116-year history.

Ndombele’s superb season earned him a move to Lyon at the end of August 2017. OL paid £7m for him and straight away, he was a revelation in Ligue 1 in central midfield. He made his France debut in October 2018 and has now has six caps to his name with Les Bleus.

Position
Ndombele is a pure No. 8 and can play in either a midfield two or three. The most important thing for him is to be able to run with the ball.

His best displays for Lyon, like against Manchester City or PSG last season, have been when he has expressed himself with the ball, breaking down the lines going forward but also working hard defensively without the ball. He bossed those games and was by far the best player on the pitch each time.

He is the modern midfielder, capable of doing pretty much everything. He is strong, powerful, technically gifted, and boasts a very high football IQ as well.

Strengths
Not many players in Ndombele’s position possess his combination of power and technical skills, and that’s why his profile is so rare. The biggest asset in his game is how he runs with the ball, a skill which makes him a real difference maker.

His mindset is pretty much always to go forward and try to do something positive, whether it’s with a lethal pass, a run or a dribble, while his power and his physical strength make it very hard for an opponent to get the ball off of him. His reading of the game, his diagonal balls and his precious through balls are all part of what makes him special. He really is the complete package as a midfielder.

A modern midfielder, Tanguy Ndombele’s arrival adds another weapon to Mauricio Pochettino’s midfield. (Photo credit should read NICOLAS TUCAT/AFP/Getty Images
Weaknesses
The scariest thing about Ndombele is that, at 22, he still has a lot to learn and there is still room for improvement in his game. Last season at Lyon, he lacked consistency at times.

For one, he didn’t seem to put the same energy, desire and concentration into some games against smaller sides that he did in big matches. He also showed a tendency to be too nonchalant at times as well.

Lastly, he can afford to further improve in the air and at times, like away at Hoffenheim in the Champions League, his marking was not efficient enough.

Where he fits in
He will fit perfectly in Spurs’ midfield. Mauricio Pochettino can use him alongside Harry Winks, in a very complimentary pair, alongside Moussa Sissoko in a very powerful duo, or in a midfield three on either side of the holding midfielder.

Tottenham play with a lot of intensity which is at the heart of Ndombele’s play. He will be perfect for the press, the rhythm and the movement associated with a Pochettino team.