Fans have barely seen Tanguy Ndombele this season, except in photos of Tottenham Hotspur training sessions. He didn’t participate in any of Spurs’ preseason games, and was not named to the matchday
18 20 for Sunday’s 1-0 win over Manchester City.
Sharp-eyed Spurs fans today discovered UEFA’s website, which has listed Tottenham’s squad registration list for the Europa Conference League, and noted that two players — Serge Aurier and Tanguy — were not on the list. That rightfully caused a small amount of panic among those who are worried that it could indicate he’s leaving the club this summer.
But it’s not quite as bad as it looks on first glance. First, here’s Tottenham’s List A, which includes players over the age of 21 and/or foreign players. A reminder that List A must include no fewer than eight association trained players. (List B can include players born after January 1, 2000 and that have trained with the club for a minimum of two years [or an association club for three years], which would include players like Alfie Devine, Dane Scarlett, and Nile John.)
- Hugo Lloris
- Pierluigi Gollini
- Brandon Austin
- Matt Doherty
- Sergio Reguilon
- Cristian Romero
- Davinson Sanchez
- Joe Rodon
- Eric Dier
- Ryan Sessegnon
- Japhet Tanganga
- Ben Davies
- Cameron Carter-Vickers
- Maksim Paskotsi
- Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg
- Son Heung-Min
- Harry Winks
- Bryan Gil
- Moussa Sissoko
- Giovani Lo Celso
- Steven Bergwijn
- Lucas Moura
- Jack Clarke
- Harry Kane
You can understand why players like Carter-Vickers and Kane were included, even though both could possibly be sold this summer — there’s no reason not to register all of Spurs’ homegrown players, even if they’re not going to end up playing, as there’s no cost in doing so. However, Spurs are over the foreign player limit, and would need to eliminate a couple of foreign born players, and both Tanguy and Serge were not on that list.
Scary, right? Maybe, but maybe not. Here’s an important excerpt from the UEFA rules regarding Conference League registration.
The August 13 registration deadline is JUST for the upcoming playoff series against Pacos de Ferreira. Should Spurs want to, they can register a max of two new players for the Conference League by September 2, so long as that doesn’t screw up the locally trained list. If they choose to register two new players, two List A foreign players would need to be removed. There’s a lot that can still happen with regards to outgoing players — Moussa Sissoko, Matt Doherty, Joe Rodon, Ben Davies... all could potentially head for the exit door by the end of the transfer window, so much of this could end up playing out. [Editor’s note — see clarification of this point below]
So — and stay with me here — let’s take a generous view of the situation and suggest that whatever is keeping Ndombele out of the first team squad is health and/or fitness related. Spurs needed to submit a List A for the Pacos series to UEFA by August 13, and knew it was unlikely Tanguy would be ready in time. Might as well leave him off for a player like Sissoko that may or may not still be sold before the transfer window closes... because at least you’re not wasting a roster slot.
Sure, my panic at the idea that Ndombele isn’t long for Tottenham Hotspur is absolutely rising, and this isn’t helping anything. However, his omission from the UEFA list isn’t in and of itself evidence that he’s exiled, or unwanted, or wants out, or is on the verge of being sold. It very well COULD be that, but it could just mean that he’s hurt, or unfit, or “not ready.” We still just don’t know.
As always, we’ll just need to be patient until we learn more.
EDIT (Aug. 16, 8:30 am ET): In the comments, Sinton makes a really important point that I didn’t catch but that probably warrants a quick explanation and article update. The “two new players” rule in the UEFA regulations almost certainly refers to just the playoff leg against Pacos de Ferreira, and NOT the team that can be registered for the group stage of the competition. Should Spurs advance, they will be able to register an entirely different List A for the group stages by the deadline of September 2. This is important and makes a lot of sense, as many clubs including Spurs are likely to have not-insignificant roster changes by the close of the transfer window that could dramatically impact the roster they’d register for the competition. Thanks to Sinton for pointing that out!
This doesn’t really change the overall point regarding Ndombele — his omission from the squad still doesn’t move the needle one way or another as to whether Tanguy is in Tottenham’s plans for the season.