We at Cartilage Free Captain do transfer rumors often, and we do them well. But sometimes it’s worth doing a deeper dive into Tottenham Hotspur’s transfer targets, what we call Daniel Levy’s Imaginary Shortlist. These are players that Spurs have either been linked to in the transfer window, or sometimes who they should be linked to as the club tries to improve to challenge for a Premier League title.
Today, we are taking a look at Lyon/Amiens midfielder Tanguy Ndombele.
Name: Tanguy Ndombele
Team: Lyon (on loan from Amiens)
League: Ligue 1
Primary position: CM/DM
Can also play: RM
Tanguy Ndombele is another promising young footballer from the fertile crescent of player production that is Paris, France. He was born in Longjumeau, a southern suburb of the capital that has also raised talents like Benjamin Mendy and Jérémy Ménez.
Ndombele played for various Parisian youth sides before coming of age at Guingamp. His first taste of senior football came in 2016 at Amiens when he was just 19-years-old. Lyon took notice after his successful first season in Northern France, and they signed him on loan before last year.
In 2017/18 his exciting and effective playing style turned heads all across Europe. He starred for Lyon and for France’s U21 side. 28 of his 32 appearances in Ligue 1 were starts as he established himself as a key member of OL’s first team squad. WhoScored gave him a 7.25 rating for his play in the league, meaning they evaluated him as one of their top players in all of France this year.
Tanguy really is a joy to watch. His game and skill-set are unique, but it might not feel unique to Spurs fans who have been watching Mousa Dembele do similar things for the last six years. Ndombele is known for the same type of dribbling techniques that Dembele has mastered. Like Mousa, part of the reason Tanguy is able to keep the ball so well is because of his strength.
But he’s not all brute force. It’s clear that the 21-year-old is an incredible athlete. His ability to rectify a heavy touch, by contorting himself to latch onto the ball, is genuinely amazing. Sometimes his worst touches turn into his best dribbles because he has gotten so good at beating players to the ball and then leaving them in the dust when he pushes it past them.
Ndombele, who is a strong 5’11, is a solid tackler and an overall sturdy defensive player, but he’s still raw offensively. His shooting is poor, but that’s not a crucial part of the role he would play at Spurs. He does however have a decent eye for through balls and other kinds of incisive passes. That’s particularly encouraging, considering it’s one of the few things that Dembele struggled with at Tottenham.
He’s an impressive talent, but don’t just take my word for it, watch for yourself.
Likely price: £20-30 million
Chances that the valuation is wrong: Probably pretty high! Ndombele’s situation is odd because he is still technically owned by Amiens, more on that in a second...
Team’s willingness to sell: If that team is Amiens, then their willingness to sell is very high because they don’t have a choice. Lyon are in the process of activating the clause in Ndombele’s loan deal which will allow them to sign him permanently for €8 million.
Usually a player doesn’t leave a club in the same summer they are signed, but this could be a unique case as he has already spent a year there. Lyon may be activating the clause with plans to then sell him for a lot more than that paltry €8 million. Or they could be activating the clause with plans to try and keep him...I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
Fit at Tottenham Hotspur: Tanguy’s last name of “Ndombele” sounds kind of like “Dembele”, so sign him up. That’s all he needs.
But seriously, everyone knows that central midfield is Spurs’ biggest position of need this summer. Dembele appears to be on his way out, which would leave Eric Dier, Victor Wanyama, and Harry Winks as the only natural midfielders. Moussa Sissoko and Josh Onomah could factor in there too, but Tottenham simply HAVE to buy at least one CM in this window.
It will be an added bonus if they can sign someone who will at least try to do the same things that Dembele did. Promising young players are never a sure thing, but Ndombele has the potential to a worthy heir to the Dembele role at Spurs.
Possibility he ends up at Spurs:
Tottenham will buy a midfielder, but they’ll probably have some competition if they decide to seriously pursue Ndombele. Lyon may want to keep him, and he’s also been linked with PSG, Juventus, and both Manchester clubs.
It’s early in the silly season and in this rumor’s lifespan, but the Ndombele interest is being reported by Paris United, who can be well informed on news involving French players. We’re not counting any cockerels before they hatch, but this could happen!
Grade if this transfer goes through: A