If you’re one of the Tottenham Hotspur fans who live and breathe transfer rumors during the off-season — and let’s face it, that’s probably about 98% of the people reading this article — you’ve probably already seen the rumors emerging out of the French footballing media about Tanguy Ndombele. The latest is a rumor from French TV station TF1 — here reported through aggregator Get French Football News — that states that Ndombele is super close to a transfer to Inter Milan.
Inter Milan are on the verge of an agreement with Tottenham over the signing of Tanguy Ndombele, but the player remains undecided on the move, according to TF1. https://t.co/AEKrJPSD24— Get French Football News (@GFFN) August 3, 2020
The gist of the article — which isn’t long — is that negotiations between the clubs is pretty much done, but Inter still “have to convince the player” who is deciding between a number of high profile European clubs.
Depending on where you fall in the Great Ndombele Wars of 2020, I either hate to break it to you or I am glad to report... that this is almost certainly agent-driven and not a thing. We’re reasonably certain that this is, to use our vernacular, “batcountry.”
Why? Well, first sources close to Tottenham were pretty quick to put out a rebuttal in the English media disputing all of these claims. Here’s Alasdair Gold.
Inter Milan certainly interested in Tanguy Ndombele but the message coming out of Spurs remains that the Frenchman is not one of the players they are looking to sell this summer and that no active talks are taking place about him.— Alasdair Gold (@AlasdairGold) August 3, 2020
Gold expanded on that in an article recently posted on football.london:
football.london understands that while Inter have shown an interest in the central midfielder, Tottenham are making it clear that Ndombele is not one of the players they are looking to sell this summer and that no dialogue is taking place about his departure from the club.
The belief inside Spurs is that the talented Frenchman simply needs more time to settle in England, having moved away from his family, and adjust to the demands of the Premier League and to get over the niggling injuries that have fragmented his first season.
The idea of originating source is pretty key to the idea that this is a batcountry rumor. I can certainly believe that Inter have a strong interest in acquiring Ndombele this summer — every good European club in need of a central midfielder should be! However, it is really weird that this rumor, which involves a French player potentially transferring from an English club to an Italian one — would emerge from a French television station and not from any more reputable sources.
It’s not at all weird to think that French sources would have an inside scoop on a French player, but usually those emerge from one of the print sources, and more often than not it’s L’Equipe. That’s not the case here. TF1 is France’s largest station, but at least to my understanding it’s rare that they get a significant scoop in a transfer rumor.
Moreover, considering that this is Inter Milan, it’s pretty strange that it’s also not being corroborated by any of the prominent Italian football journos like Nicola Schira, Fabrizio Romano, or Gianluca Di Marzio. Near as I can tell they’ve all been radio silent, as has the English media.
Instead, this has the feel to me of an agent-driven rumor. I have no trouble believing that either Tanguy’s agent or one of his representatives has slipped this to TF1 in order to drive the media. The sources from the English media, as Gold states above, are pretty firm in their assertion that Spurs don’t want to sell Ndombele except for stupid money, regardless of interest. Maybe slipping in a “Inter is close” rumor in France puts a little pressure on Spurs and drums up some big money for a transfer, but it seems unlikely.
Like, maybe Inter have some stupid money stashed somewhere because Financial Fair Play is basically dead now and they’ve actually made a big money move for Tanguy, but if that’s the case it’s really weird that we’re hearing it from TF1 and not from any number of sources that would be closer connected to either club involved.
So I’m not buying it. I think Inter is interested. I think Tanguy’s agent is probably trying to find an off-ramp for his client. I also think that the odds are higher than not that Ndombele will still be wearing a (god-awful) home Tottenham Hotspur kit when the season kicks off in September.