Tanguy Ndombele reported to pre-season training, facing a mammoth uphill battle to work his way back into Tottenham’s first-team fold.
The Frenchman, who cost a club record £55 million at the time of the purchase, rubbed many people the wrong way during his first stint at Spurs. Saying he hasn’t lived up to his astronomical price tag is the understatement of the millennium.
Even Richarlison, whose £60 million price tag surpassed Ndombele’s as the club’s most expensive transfer, provided better value for money than the ostracized Frenchman.
And that’s saying a lot.
Richarlison scored only one Premier League goal in his first season but, despite his anemic offensive output, almost always committed himself fully.
The same cannot be said for Ndbombele, who was chased out of north London for his off-putting attitude and objectionable, oft lacklustre work rate.
His unbecoming attitude correlated directly to a fitness level that wasn’t up to snuff.
Antonio Conte quickly condemned him to the bench, where Ndombele took up permanent residence before the final nail was hammered into his coffin during an FA Cup match against Morecambe.
In that match, he was withdrawn in the 69th minute after another abject performance. At the time of his departure, Tottenham trailed 1-0 at home to the League two side.
Ndombele ambled off the pitch, despondent, wholly defeated. His petulance angered Tottenham supporters and rightly so.
That was his last performance in Tottenham’s lily-white before being shipped off to Napoli.
So it’s not just the new gaffer he needs to impress, but millions of Spurs supporters who continue to harbour ill-will toward the mercurial 26-year-old.
Ndombele reported to pre-season camp exactly how he left. He exited his vehicle, ambling whimsically, ostensibly without purpose. And boy, oh boy, did he get lambasted on Twitter for his infamous entrance.
While Ndombele deserved all the criticism he received for often mailing it in during his initial stint, the disproportionate tongue-lashing he received for how he reported to pre-season training was harsh and unjustified.
Supporters’ anger about how Ndombele got out of his car and reported to camp was residual resentment stemming from his apathetic first stint in north London.
A lack of effort is the one thing supporters won’t accept. Ndombele makes £200 000 weekly, level with Harry Kane as Tottenham’s top earner. Consistently putting in a 100 percent effort is the bare minimum expectation.
Nobody questions Ndombele’s footballing ability. If his head is into it, Ndombele has the raw ability to be an elite player. His creativity and ability to spin on a dime and retain possession is off the charts.
But without hard-nosed, full-blooded commitment, especially under Ange’s watchful eye, Ndombele will find himself again on the outside looking in, this time irreparably.
The 2023-24 campaign represents the last-chance saloon for Tanguy.
Not only must he impress the new gaffer, but he also has to make amends and win back an entire fanbase, many of whom drove him out of London with pitchforks in hand.