Tottenham Hotspur have a pretty shocking record when it comes to “club record signings”. I personally can go back to Rebrov being signed for a then staggering £11m but I think the more recent examples people will think of is Roberto Soldado, Erik Lamela, Moussa Sissoko and now of course our current big money record breaking signing Tanguy Ndombele.
Soldado and Lamela arrived in the same window so as quickly as Soldado became our biggest ever signing Lamela arrived a week or so later and took the crown. Neither lived up to expectations. Lamela is still with us, still fights (when he is not injured) but expectation never reached. Sissoko arrived for £30m also… I am not sure anyone actually expected much, in fact I remember the day he signed and people were laughing at us spending that much on him. However what we had for the first two years for that money was just awful. It became a joke. A bad joke.
So this brings me to our latest big money signing: Tanguy Ndombele.
The reason I am writing this blog is because of the sheer amount of abuse I am seeing him get online and also comments from our head coach Jose Mourinho, which in my opinion, are completely out of line and why I felt the need to write this blog.
Ndombele is a talented player. Anyone with eyes can see when he is on the pitch he is arguably this season our best player. He always looks to move forward, threads passes well, is strong in possession and as I said has looked in each game he has featured our best player. So what is the issue? The issue is his fitness and injury record since arriving in the summer and now, based on Jose’s comments its not so much about fitness but more about a weak mentality.
The player recently turned 23 years old, he has moved to a new country and is learning the language. He has also moved from a league where being at 50% some weeks he could coast by and that was okay, whereas we all know the Premier League is not that – even the “lesser” teams in the league will make you fight for everything from minute one until the last.
He is a player with immense talent but is still adjusting and yet while clearly adjusting he has still already shown why we spent all the money we did. He has in just a handful of games, circa 15 as I write this he has two goals and three assists. He has also, per minute, got the most take on completed of any Spurs player. He has the second highest pass completion percentage (Winks is first) and he has the highest amount of passes completed in the opposition half.
Now stats are stats. Some people dismiss them, some people rely on them as gospel. I am somewhere in between. I believe sometimes I rate a player based on what I see and then the stats do not back that up. Lucas Moura a prime example of a player who for me is a goal scorer but a certain hat-trick aside his record us is actually worse than Nacer Chadli. So when it comes to talking about stats and Tanguy I am simply stating them as I want people to realise in the minutes he has played he has been great.
YES the trick is him playing more and that will come. Pochettino, before being fired, said several times it was a huge adjustment for the player. He was now at a big club with big expectations on him. On how he eats, how he trains, how he conducts himself. All things until now he was left to his own to handle. Add to that learning the language and you have a player that needs support not public condemnation. Pochettino knew that, sadly our new man in Mourinho does not and that worries me.
I remember watching Jose slate Luke Shaw for being fat at Manchester United publicly and of course his now famous falling out with Pogba. I remember watching all of that and being very thankful that it was not our manager doing things like that. Sadly, now it is.
Luke Shaw as a professional has never recovered, his confidence destroyed. We cannot let that happen with Tanguy. He needs his team mate, us as fans to support him through this adjustment period. Even if it takes a season we have without doubt a world class midfielder here with his prime years ahead of him.