Well, you can’t ask for a better debut than that. Tanguy Ndombele made his Tottenham Hotspur debut in the second half of Spurs’ 3-2 International Champions Cup win over Juventus in Singapore on Sunday. And he did it with style! Ndombele provided an assist with his first pass of his Spurs career, picking out Lucas Moura’s diagonal run into the box and finding him with a progressive through ball. Lucas slotted the ball past former Arsenal keeper Wojciech Szczesny to level the score at 2-2.
Minutes later, Ndombele had a pop from distance, shooting a ball that missed the net, but wasn’t far away.
It was an auspicious debut for Spurs’ record signing — he was bold with the ball and strong in possession, making Spurs fans excited about what he can do for Tottenham in the midfield. And this was after only a week of training!
After the match, manager Mauricio Pochettino said that he was thrilled with Tanguy’s performance, but cautioned patience, noting that he still has a long way to go to realize his full potential at Spurs.
“Yes, of course I am happy but we cannot expect from him too much. He’s only just had the possibility to get to know his team-mates, to adapt himself to the new countries, new culture, new players, new games, new tempo.
”All is new for him, but I think with the first touch of the ball he started to show the quality from him. It was amazing and you can see when he runs something can happen.
”He has the capacity to add to the team different things and I hope during the season he can help the team achieve all that they want.”
Pochettino went on to say that he only planned to give Ndombele a 15 minute cameo, just to get his feet wet in the competition, but decided to leave him on the pitch as the match went on.
“Ndombele is a player that has the capacity to do what he did today, but still it’s too far away in his adaptation. It’s only one week with us. Today he played more than I expected because our plan was to play him for only 15 minutes, but with the tempo in the second half it was good to give him 30 minutes.
”We are happy with him but we don’t expect too much. We know his talent and what he can add to the team but it’s step by step and not to put too much pressure on him.”
It’s easy to get excited after a performance like that against what was a very good Juventus lineup, even though it’s preseason football and nobody was playing at full speed. Even so, you could see immediately what Ndombele brings to the table — solid dribbling, progressive passing, and strength on the ball. Several times he’d make a pass and then immediately sprint forward to be in a position to receive the ball up the pitch. He looked good when paired with Moussa Sissoko, who plays in a somewhat similar, but complementary style.
It’s really early to start drawing any conclusions on Ndombele’s play, but even from this short 30 minutes you can see the quality that Ndombele brings to the table. Based on this very short sample size he looks every bit like a player who can help revolutionize Tottenham’s midfield. Pochettino may wisely preach caution, but it’s really really hard not to get very excited.