Transfer Talk: Ndombele heading for exit after failing to earn his Spurs
Tanguy Ndombele’s future at Tottenham looks bleak after the midfielder was booed off by his own supporters against Morecambe on Sunday.
While the £55million signing has impressed in parts since his move in 2019, he has largely failed to live up to his price tag.
That the Frenchman has fallen out of favour under five different managers — Mauricio Pochettino, Jose Mourinho, Ryan Mason, Nuno Espirito Santo and now Antonio Conte — is an ominous sign.
Ahead of Spurs’ EFL Cup semi-final second leg clash against Chelsea on Wednesday, we consider what is next for Ndombele.
Spurs were 3-1 winners against League One outfit Morecambe on Sunday but it was an unconvincing day overall, having trailed up until the 74th minute in North London.
The introduction of first-team stars eventually secured the victory and the biggest losers of the day appear to have been the fringe players who started the game, many of whom are now facing uncertain futures.
One of the highest-profile names facing the door is Ndombele after the seven-cap France international failed to impress during a rare start.
His slow jaunt towards the touchline when he was taken off as part of a triple substitution drew anger from fans and the relationship between player and club now looks to have turned sour.
The Spurs boss also looked less than impressed as the player went straight down the tunnel.
But rather than write Ndombele off in the post-match press conference, Conte challenged the record signing to change fan opinion by showing more on the pitch.
The Italian said: "This type of situation happens in football. You have to be good to try to change your opinion if someone is disappointed with you. It’s normal."
The circle of trust
Conte has given everyone currently in the Spurs squad the chance to impress him since arriving in November.
The revivals of the likes of Harry Winks and Ben Davies show that there has been a way back under the ex-Chelsea chief.
Speaking of Winks, who was linked with a move away but is now a regular starter for Spurs, Conte has stressed the importance of having players he can rely on.
He said of the midfielder: "Winks will stay here. I’m finding out which players are reliable and I can count on them. Winksy showed me I can count on him."
The former Premier League and Serie A winner asks for a lot in return for his faith and it seems Ndombele is one who has not shown enough.
The former Lyon star possesses all the tricks in the book and is a joy to watch in full flow but to earn Conte’s trust you must be just as effective off the ball.
Ndombele ranks 15th at the club this season for possessions won in the middle third (24) — an area of the pitch you would expect your big-money signing to dominate.
He grabbed an assist when handed a start in the 2-2 draw against Liverpool in December but, just like against Morecambe, was withdrawn around the hour mark when the game was hanging on a knife-edge.
That suggests that Conte has a circle of players he can trust — and Ndombele is currently not in it.
Both the club and the player may have made up their mind that a move is best but there still needs to be a willing buyer.
And early reports suggest interest in the star remains thin on the ground.
Ndombele's wages are believed to be in excess of £200,000 per week on a contract which still has three years to run, so it will not be a cheap deal for anyone who may entertain the move.
Even with the ability he possesses, questions over attitude are never a good look for a player and managers may be wary of bringing that into their own dressing room.
Ndombele requested to leave Spurs during the summer as Barcelona were linked with a move.
A transfer did not materialise as the Blaugrana struggled to register players amid their financial woes.
But the Catalan club recently declared themselves "back as big players" in the transfer market, so may be tempted to go back in for the playmaker during the January window.
Though there is no suggestion Barca, or any other club, currently have any concrete interest.
Spurs and Ndombele may have to wait it out until the latter stages of the window for a clearer idea on whether a move will materialise.
A future at Spurs?
That means remaining at Spurs at least until the end of the season is also still on the cards — even if it is not the ideal option for either party.
While Sunday’s incident has damaged his relationship with both Conte and the fans, Ndombele can mend that by working hard for the team.
The Spurs boss is highly expected to strengthen this window, meaning regaining a place will be that much harder.
Whether it be with Spurs or another club, Ndombele’s future success is likely to factor on his attitude over the coming weeks.