Tottenham chairman Levy right to break with tradition in Ndombele deal

When Tanguy Ndombele was confirmed as a Tottenham Hotspur player, the internet went into collective meltdown.

It was #TanguyTuesday and Spurs fans, really, couldn’t quite believe it.

Their transfer record of £42m had been shattered as chairman Daniel Levy paid £53.8m for a player who solves the club’s biggest problem at a stroke: replacing Mousa Dembele.

And, with each passing day, the deal looks more and more like a bargain.

Perhaps this speaks to not judging a player’s fee until the end of the summer but just look at the majority of big deals that are being struck in this window.

Leicester City defender Harry Maguire, who has enjoyed one good World Cup and a couple of decent Premier League seasons, could move to Manchester United for a fee that approaches £100m. Lewis Dunk, the Brighton & Hove Albion defender, could replace him for a fee of £45m.

That Dunk figure is just £8.8m less than what Spurs paid for Ndombele. Let that sink in for a second.

Ndombele was linked with a clutch of elite clubs after two excellent seasons in Ligue 1 and a number of sparkling performances in the Champions League, particularly against Manchester City and Barcelona. Dunk has been solid in a team that has largely battled relegation during their time in the Premier League.

One of these things is not like the other and it speaks to the genius of Levy’s move.

Firstly, he made sure that the deal was struck early. Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s move to Manchester United from Crystal Palace, which cost £50m, was the only truly major move completed by a Premier League club prior to Spurs’ acquisition of Ndombele.

Secondly, Ndombele’s price was rising with every passing day.

Tanguy Ndombele in action for Lyon

As the deal reached its latter stages, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas claimed that the fee could rise to close to £72m if he just waited.

One bets that he wishes he had.

Looking at the money being lavished now, the deal for the France international really does look like peanuts.

Now, of course, one has to see him play to ascertain whether or not Spurs have signed the correct player. He could flounder in Mauricio Pochettino’s system but reports suggest that he was the manager’s top target.

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Levy went in, got the deal done, and has been able to sit back and watch as other clubs fall over themselves to get transfers over the line.

Imagine if this had been done in reverse. If Ndombele had been signed in, say, the final week of the transfer window, in the wake of Maguire moving, of Dunk’s transfer and of a number of other major moves on the continent, one feels that the fee could have potentially doubled.

Of course, Ligue 1 players tend to move for major fees – Ndombele is the fourth-most expensive player sold by a French club, following Kylian Mbappe, James Rodriguez and Thomas Lemar – but, even still, Levy appears to have worked the market to perfection.

It is notable, too, because the Spurs chairman usually does so many deals in the last few days of the window; think of the acquisitions of the likes of Rafael van der Vaart, Moussa Sissoko, Lucas Moura and Fernando Llorente.

It’s no coincidence either that the last three names, all during the Mauricio Pochettino era, took a while to get going in north London. Moura didn’t really establish himself in the team until last season, Sissoko was the whipping boy before 2018/19 and Llorente’s debut campaign ended with just five goals.

Even Heung-min Son’s first season saw him manage only four Premier League goals after arriving near the close of August.

Ndombele though has been given the best chance possible to settle and has already featured in pre-season against Juventus.

Levy’s decision to break that late-window habit looks to have saved Spurs a fortune and should see the new club-record signing hit the ground running in the Premier League.