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Tanguy Ndombele

Lyon to Tottenham, €62m

Profile
Tanguy Ndombele established himself in France’s Ligue 2 with Amiens after being released by Guingamp. He led Amiens to promotion before joining Lyon, initially on loan, in August 2017. He duly excelled, and was signed on a permanent basis for an eventual fee of €10m the following summer.

His fine performances increasingly made an impression on Tottenham, who after 18 months without signing a senior player paid a club-record initial fee of €62m to secure his arrival as the long-term replacement for Mousa Dembélé. The 22-year-old brings experience of Champions League football and has been capped six times by France, who gave him his international debut off the bench in a friendly against Iceland in October 2018. More recently he scored on his Premier League debut, when Spurs recovered from a goal down to defeat Aston Villa 3-1.

Tactical analysis
Ndombele predominantly plays as a deep-lying central midfielder in front of the defence. He is comfortable receiving possession under pressure and uses his upper-body strength to shield possession one-on-one, evade the press and continue to advance with the ball, at which point his technical ability enables him to progress under pressure. The weight of his penetrative passes (above) is a significant asset; these are not always straightforward, but can be played at angles to break through compact opponents on more than one line, and into the path of a forward runner.

He largely remains behind the ball as teammates progress into the opposition’s half, offering both support and security against counter-attacks. He prefers to move forward after making shorter, forward passes to then receive the return pass; these runs can go untracked, and cause problems for opposition defensive and midfield lines.

The Frenchman often directs his teammates in possession, instructing them where to move possession during build-ups. When he collects in space in deeper territory, he also looks to drive forward (below), attracting the opposition and creating further space through which he can switch play.

Out of possession Ndombele is capable of covering large distances at speed but also demonstrates a sound positional awareness. He has a good understanding of what is behind him, when he needs to join the press, and when he should remain in position.

He also uses his athleticism to regain possession in one-on-one situations; his ability to cover ground gets him close enough to the individual on the ball to get his head down and prevent him from playing. His strength then allows him to move the opponent and ultimately regain possession.

Role at new club
Given Spurs’ long-term need for a player of Ndombele’s qualities, should he perform as he can he is almost certain to become a regular fixture in Mauricio Pochettino’s starting XI. He is capable of combining the physicality of Moussa Sissoko and Dembélé with the defensive qualities of Victor Wanyama and the ball-playing abilities of Harry Winks.

Given Mourinho continues to experiment with his new squad, the midfielder will regardless have to adapt. He can operate in between the defensive and midfield lines (above), and therefore potentially even encourage the Portuguese to start all of Son Heung-min, Dele Alli and Lucas Moura behind Harry Kane in the most potent of attacks.

Depending on the opposition, Ndombele will also be used as a deep-lying central midfielder alongside one of Sissoko, Winks, Wanyama, Eric Dier or Eriksen. In a variety of positions, he will ultimately provide strength in and out of possession, and in transitions. The quicker he settles in – and his debut goal against Villa will have helped in this regard – the greater the impact he might have as Tottenham take aim at the teams that finished above them last season.

Tanguy Ndombele

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