If you were still wondering whether Tottenham Hotspur really has a chance at signing Tanguy Ndombele this summer, this might make your eyes widen a bit. Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas admitted in L’Equipe (via: Goal) that he is in the process of negotiating with several big clubs for the sale of Ndombele, but also that he’s personally contacted Paris St. Germain to get them into the discussion as well.
“I am negotiating with the biggest European clubs for Ndombele. I’m the one who revived the PSG talks so that they don’t feel dismissed. If PSG aligns with the three offers received and Tanguy agrees, it would be nice if he goes there.”
So holy smokes, there’s a lot to unpack there. Let’s take it point by point.
Aulas is basically French Daniel Levy.
There’s no reason why the president of a football club would actively beg another club, especially the giant, oil-drenched 800 lb gorilla club in his own league, to get involved in the transfer of one of his own players unless he is actively trying to drive the transfer price up via the media. Aulas is literally implying that he’d rather sell Ndombele to a league rival than to Spurs. That’s an epic d—k move, and I actually respect it.
Why do I respect it? Because that’s exactly what Daniel Levy would do, except he’d do it behind closed doors and not in the press. It’s not the first time these two have butted heads, either. Aulas made Levy’s life miserable (and vice versa) on two separate occasions — the transfer of Hugo Lloris back in 2012, and more recently the protracted transfer for Clinton N’jie. In this sense Aulas can be seen as a French version of Levy. They’re definitely cut from the same cloth and I bet my last dollar they both loathe and also secretly respect each other.
It’s basically the Spiderman Pointing meme (hat tip to Joel Wortheimer, who first said this).
This could actually be good news for Spurs.
I wondered openly on Twitter after reading this whether this suggests that Levy somehow has Aulas over a barrel financially. I’m revising that somewhat — I don’t think Aulas is terrified that Levy’s going to take him to the cleaners over Ndombele as much as this is just standard Aulas practice of getting as much money for his saleable asset as possible.
But it does drive home that Spurs could potentially be in a very good position for the purchase of Ndombele this summer. The other teams linked at the moment are Manchester City and Juventus. Past transfer rumors suggested that Spurs present a compelling case over Juventus, not only because Spurs supposedly offered a “compelling” wage package, but also due to Champions League status, a guarantee of minutes, and the ability to play Premier League football under Mauricio Pochettino.
The elephant in the room is City. There’s the specter of a transfer ban looming over their heads, but should they decide to get serious about Ndombele they can blow Spurs out of the water. It seems likely that they aren’t really focusing on Ndombele at the moment, which gives Spurs an opening, and also helps explain why Aulas is crying HALP to PSG.
This is really hilarious.
Michael Caley said in our writer’s Slack today that this would be objectively funny if we didn’t care so damn much about the actual outcome. He’s the perfect player to build a midfield around, and getting him would be a signature signing the likes of which we haven’t seen since... well, probably Hugo Lloris. Aulas is being Aulas and trying to openly ratf—k his way to a higher price for Ndombele, which is pissing people off. WE’RE the only ones allowed to ratf—k in the transfer market, and we do it privately!
As it stands, I still don’t think Spurs are favorites to land Ndombele’s signature, but it’s sure looking like they’ve got as much of a chance to land him as they could possibly ask for. Ultimately it might come down to what Ndombele wants, and you can’t ask for a better swing at the ball than that.