Jose Mourinho was one of the most notable figures to criticise Tanguy Ndombele following Tottenham Hotspur’s draw with Burnley earlier this month. It was followed by a humbling exit from the UEFA Champions League, at the hands of RB Leipzig. Although the Frenchman was not involved in the midweek game, there have been an alarming number of criticisms coming at his way over the past few weeks.
And here, at the 4th Official, we will take a deep dive into Ndombele’s debut season in England and figure out whether or not he has a future at Spurs.
Injuries playing a part
Perhaps the most crucial reason behind Ndombele’s downfall this season has been the constant fitness issues the player has faced so far. Indeed, the ex-Lyon midfielder, despite featuring in 19 Premier League matches, has made only 12 starts this campaign. It has been a problem for Mourinho, particularly with Moussa Sissoko also struggling with injury.
Ndombele has suffered from a groin as well as a hamstring problem so far. On paper, those two injuries have kept him out for just over a month. But in reality, this issue has kept him from being fully fit on several occasions. As a result, the Spurs midfielder has missed several matches.
And the lack of a regular game-time has clearly played a part in his progress being stifled during his first season in England.
The Lo Celso factor
When figuring out Ndombele’s importance at Tottenham, it is imperative to find out whether or not he is tactically adept at striving under the pragmatic style of play under Mourinho. On paper, he looks like an ideal fit, thanks to his aggression, which is combined with an ability to carry the ball across half-spaces.
However, there is a hint of tactical discrepancy that comes to light when Mourinho tries to accomodate Giovani Lo Celso and Ndombele in the same lineup. Both are central midfielders who are equipped with excellent close control and like to attack the opposition.
Now, Lo Celso has obviously been the better performer of the two. In fact, the Argentine has arguably been Spurs’ most consistent player since the turn of the year.
It is also fair to point out that it would be difficult for Mourinho to accomodate Lo Celso into any other role, given the fact that he already has Dele Alli in the number ten slot. At the same time, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura are viable options at right-wing. And this could significantly affect Ndombele’s long-term future at the club.
What’s next for Ndombele?
Aside from injuries and the emergence of Lo Celso, Ndombele is also facing other problems. Spurs notably brought in Gedson Fernandes on loan in January while Harry Winks has significantly improved under Mourinho, despite the club’s poor form since the turn of the year.
Therefore, the Frenchman needs to impress whenever he gets an opportunity during the remainder of the campaign if he is to make himself a regular first-team fixture at Spurs. Should he continue to struggle, however, it won’t be a bad idea for Tottenham to settle for a loss and use the money from his sale to reinforce the defence or the attacking unit in the summer.