The biggest question of the offseason has been whether Tottenham Hotspur will sell or keep their record signing Tanguy Ndombele after just one miserable year at the club.
There has been numerous conflicting reports flying around social media and “bat country” — some saying that the situation between Ndombele and Spurs manager Jose Mourinho is irrevocably broken, and others suggesting that Tottenham are unlikely to cut bait on a player on whom they spent so much money and who has so much promise.
Fabrizio Romano has quickly risen to the status of transfer rumor guru in the past year or so, a spot heretofore only occupied by the likes of former BBC reporter David Ornstein, now with The Athletic. Romano’s social media reports and announcements are considered gold standard these days, so it was somewhat of a coup for Tottenham podcast Last Word on Spurs to have him on as an interview guest this week.
Romano, when asked about Ndombele, had some very interesting things to say about Tanguy — not just that Spurs are willing to give him a chance, but that the early rumors concerning a potential swap deal with Inter Milan for Milan Skriniar were accurate, though they never came to fruition.
“I think the situation at the minute for himself is that if Tottenham will keep him, he will fight for Tottenham and he is not just trying to leave the club. But, if an important bid arrives, he will not refuse and is prepared to leave. So he will be very respectful of Tottenham’s decision and it is a particular situation because the board of Tottenham is convinced that Ndombele is a top player who can have an important impact. They signed him one year ago because they are convinced that he’s a top player.
“He has had a season which is not at his level for his skills and the real problem in my opinion is that Jose Mourinho is not so happy with the mentality of Ndombele, not the technical part, it is just the mentality and so he wants more from Ndombele.
“That’s why the club do not want to sell him, but Jose wants the club to consider some possible bids. For example, Inter Milan were trying to sign him two or three weeks ago and had a new contact with Tottenham after July to try a swap deal with Milan Skriniar, they were considering this opportunity. Then Inter offered a simple swap deal without any fee for Skriniar but Tottenham do not want to accept this kind of bid, just for Skriniar and no fee. Instead, they also want €20m or €30m to sell Ndombele with Skriniar as part of the deal.
“I think this summer, the Ndombele situation will be particular because the club don’t want to sell him. Daniel Levy was so happy one year ago after he signed Ndombele and is convinced he can have a top second season as a Tottenham player.
“But Jose wants more from Ndombele, so we will have to see if another club will arrive with a bid or if Inter will try again, but in this moment I’m told they are looking at other players like Arturo Vidal so they are not so hot on Ndombele in this moment.”
If you’re a Tanguy backer, this is great news, with some pretty important caveats. It makes sense that Spurs would not be interesting on cutting bait on Ndombele for anything less than the money they paid for him, but if he stays, we’re back to the same dynamic we had previously where Ndombele will need to apply himself and try to work himself back into Mourinho’s plans, while Mourinho will need to commit to trying to make things work.
It seems likely that in this coronavirus-depressed market that Ndombele won’t have many suitors for the price that Spurs want. Romano’s comments make it seem as though it’s more likely that he stays at Spurs for another season unless a really good bid comes in. If that’s the case, then it really does come down to the relationship between Ndombele and Mourinho. That’s a pretty big rorschach test for Spurs fans based on how already predisposed you are towards Mourinho’s management.
That wasn’t the only bombshell dropped by Fabrizio Romano. Elsewhere in the podcast, Romano suggested that Spurs reached out to inquire about bringing Christian Eriksen back to Spurs just nine months after selling him to Inter, the club wants £15m for out-of-favor Argentine center back Juan Foyth, and that Spurs have been offered the chance to sign Real Madrid fullback Sergio Reguilon, but that there are currently no talks underway.