It comes as no surprise that anyone who worships at the temple of Tottenham Hotspur is over the moon today after Spurs announced the successful signings of both Jack Clarke and Tanguy Ndombele. With no disrespect meant towards the teenager, who will head back to Leeds United for the 2019-2020 campaign, Ndombele was the big fish that Spurs wanted and somehow managed to get.
So how did this happen?
L’Equipe has a great breakdown of it in their print and online edition, and we’ve done our best to translate the article. It gives us some inner workings of just how Tottenham Hotspur smashed their transfer fee record and brought in one of the best young midfielders in the world. For posterity sake, I’m going to attempt to clean up the translations we have. I will apologize in advance for some syntax errors but I think we’ve got it to the point where it’s clear to read.
Juventus, which had multiple meetings with [Ndombele’s] entourage for several months to the point of having a global contractual agreement, Tottenham is the most active in this last timeline. At the end of June, London is a rather discreet meeting place. And, immediately, Mauricio Pochettino, accompanied by his French-speaking assistant Miguel D’Agostino, makes a strong impression. Ambitions, positioning, use, work ethic: the technician does not hide anything from Ndombele and convinces him with, in essence, a message: “Yes, it will be hard but I want to keep the Tanguy that you are. The Tanguy that projects, which breaks lines.”
The first part of this is intriguing. Juventus had been linked to Ndombele for just as long as Spurs had, but L’Equipe are suggesting that the Italian giants had personal terms agreed upon but didn’t have a transfer deal with Jean-Michel Aulas. That part isn’t surprising, given Aulas wanted to drive the price up but found little help, especially when Juventus locked onto Adrien Rabiot on a free transfer.
The demanding Argentine wants the player to have freedom but adds that he will also have to be more decisive in the last move. Feeling passes quickly. Requested by Tottenham since February, Ndombele is convinced. Juventus, which finalized the arrival of Adrien Rabiot, had waited. Manchester United asks him to wait again, trying to settled the deal with Paul Pogba. Since an appointment in early May with Antero Henrique, the former sports director of PSG, he is no longer there. It remains to be concluded. No small deal with the president who scares all European agents, even the most reckless: Daniel Levy.
This also confirms that Manchester United and PSG were involved at certain points, but as we noted in one of our articles, PSG’s changing of the guard with their sporting director effectively killed off interest. United’s headache of trying to get Real Madrid to buy Paul Pogba basically delayed the move too long. One has to imagine that no Champions League didn’t help their cause either.
The boss of Tottenham is never better than when there’s a brawl. After several days of discussions, Levy convinces Jean-Michel Aulas during the weekend. Spurs must now complete the contractual agreement with the agents of the player: Mounir Sidhoum and Romain Fernandez. And from the first hours, the boss of Spurs fixed the course: “You will not leave without having signed with us,” he slips into a smile, tinged with challenge.
Well that’s terrifying to have Levy tell you you’re not leaving. It’s nice to have the Levy of old back now that he isn’t dealing with the stadium.
The hours go by and the discussions are intense. Assisted by the fearsome Rebecca Caplehorn, Director of Football Operations since 2015, Levy is not bending. Camp Ndombele either. The discussions, interspersed with sequences of bluff, stretch in the evening of Monday. And after six hours of sleep, they resume Tuesday morning. The phones heat up: Levy negotiates in parallel to bring Giovani Lo Celso (Betis Seville).
Dealing with Daniel Levy is bad enough. Having Rebecca Caplehorn there, who has been described as just as ruthless in negotiations as Levy, probably made for one of the most intense board room meetings ever.
Then there’s that final bit: Levy took the time during negotiations with Ndombele to call Betis and do negotiations for Lo Celso. I’ve never been more convinced that Daniel Levy never sleeps.
For Ndombele, the goals are getting closer. The entourage of the player touches the goal he had set on the contractual plan: make the Frenchman one of the highest paid players in the group. Long regarded as one of the hottest clubs in the Premier League, Tottenham has changed its pay grid, and Ndombele benefits. The emoluments of the French are at the height of the historical character of the transfer, the largest purchase of the English club and the biggest sale of the French club.
It’s worth noting that not only did Spurs smash their transfer fee record, but Lyon just made the most money ever from a single player sale. Aulas has already turned the fee into a couple of quality players, so the deal has helped both sides even if Lyon are losing Ndombele. Also, while L’Equipe doesn’t state the wages, it’s being reported that with all escalators and bonuses, Ndombele’s deal is for about £200,000/week.
So there you have it. After several months of links, we’ve come to learn that this deal basically came together in a little over a few weeks. Levy managed to break down Aulas once it became clear nobody else was coming, got the fee down a bit but to a point where Lyon weren’t feeling robbed, and brought in one of the best midfielders in the world.
Ndombele has a couple of weeks to himself now before pre-season camp opens for Tottenham. Perhaps a certain Argentine midfielder will be joining him in the near future...