Tanguy Ndombele has endured a mixed second season at Tottenham Hotspur to say the least, but he must return to the starting XI when the north Londoners host Sheffield United on Sunday evening.
One of the Frenchman’s best performances of the year came against the Blades back in mid-January and it was capped off by a sublime finish from a tight angle to seal all three points.
He arguably ran the show that day and, in his surprising absence for last Sunday’s Carabao Cup final, Spurs looked completely devoid of any ideas in attack.
Ryan Mason was bolstered by the return of Harry Kane but, even with the England talisman, the Lilywhites fired just one shot on target and that was one of only two attempts at goal all afternoon as Man City clinched the trophy.
Heung-min Son and Lucas Moura were the only Spurs players to provide a key pass on the day – by comparison, Pep Guardiola’s men created 18 key chances between them and had a whopping 21 shots, as per SofaScore.
The midfield three of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Harry Winks and Giovani Lo Celso just did not work and, as a result, they could do with a real spark against the Premier League’s rock-bottom strugglers to ensure they do not slip up and ruin their season further.
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Ndombele has directly contributed towards ten goals in all competitions this term, four more than in his maiden season at the club, and he ranks amongst their best performers (6.93), as per WhoScored ratings.
The 24-year-old’s ability on the ball is clear, averaging 2.4 dribbles per game, some 0.9 more than any other Spurs player, which only goes to show that they miss his drive in midfield when he isn’t on the park.
Furthermore, Ndombele manages 6.4 progressive runs every 90 minutes, meaning he is the most productive in moving the ball towards the opposition’s goal or into the penalty box – no other Spurs regular is better, not even Son, via FBRef.
Earlier this year, back-up goalkeeper Joe Hart lauded his £45m-rated teammate to BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand in the middle of their FA Cup encounter with Wycombe Wanderers.
“I said to Joe, how good is he? And he said ‘this kid is a world-beater, he can do anything.’ He just turned around during the game and said ‘this kid is unplayable’,” Ferdinand revealed (via football.london).
This echoed the thoughts of former Spurs midfielder Jermaine Jenas, who said on BT Sport’s coverage (January 28th 2021, 19:35): “You don’t want to play against him because he can do everything. He is quicker than you, he is stronger than you, he is more skilful than you. It can be a nightmare kind of night for you.”
If Mason wants to get Spurs back on track this weekend and respond to their recent heartbreak, then Ndombele absolutely has to start at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
He’s a game-changer, and he can impact their fortunes tenfold this weekend.