Transfer Grade: Tottenham Acquire Tanguy Ndombele for £56.5 Million ($71.1M USD) – A Deal 517 Days in the Making

Written By Chops on July 3, 2019

Who: Tanguy Ndombele
From Where: Lyon
To Where: Tottenham
For How Much: £56.5m ($71.1M USD)
Grade for Tottenham: C+
Grade for Lyon: B

Tanguy Ndombele to Tottenham Overview

January 31st 2018. 517 days.

That’s how long it has been since Tottenham Hotspur have bought a player.

That purchase, Lucas Moura, helped propel them to an unlikely Champions League finals run this year.

Can new Tottenham record-breaking transferee Tanguy Ndombele have a similar impact?

Who is he?

Tanguy Ndombele is a 22 year-old midfielder (mostly a 6 but can be attacking) from France.

He played for Lyon last year, tallying one goal and 7 assists in 31 games. He’s excellent with the ball at his feet (seriously, he’s an absurd dribbler), penetrates well and is an accurate passer (nearly 90% passing success rate).

Without seeing the data, my gut is his xG is greater than his actual goal count too. There’s a finisher in there, even if he doesn’t score much / at all.

Ndombele has been on most of the “top young transfer targets in Europe” lists all year (more on this later).

In theory, this is exactly the type of purchase that Spurs need to make.

Is the price fair?

This is the most Tottenham has ever paid for a player.

The initial reports a week ago pegged Spurs paying £65 million ($82m USD) for the 22-year-old. The final reported deal today has the number at £56.5 million with the potential for £8.5m in bonuses (so basically £65 million if fully paid) to Lyon.

While £56.5 upfront is certainly better than £65 — are there more productive midfielders on the market than that? The talent is there, but at that price, is the production?

What impact should we expect?

This is really difficult to say as of today.

First, a lot depends on if Christian Eriksen is staying or going. If Mauricio Pochettino needs to replace some of that offensive productivity, that could mean a more front footed role for Ndomele.

Spurs need some backline support, and a solid #6 isn’t a bad way to help plug a leaky defense. But Ndombele has the skill set of an attacker.

Second, Ligue 1 players can take some time leveling up on their fitness when coming to the Premier League. And adjusting to the physicality. Look at Fabinho’s phasing in at Liverpool last year. How long will it take Ndomele to meet the physical demands of going from a weak domestic league to the best one?

So…who knows? My gut says two things:

  1. Ndomele is going to frustrate the hell out of Spurs fans for awhile, and
  2. If anyone will figure out how to put Ndomele in a position for success before the season ends, it’s Poch.

The Grades

Given how much shit Spurs have gotten for not buying anyone for 517 days, it’s really hard to crap all over this. But here goes!

One one hand, Spurs need depth. Anywhere and everywhere. Remember back in January when pundits thought it was a “three-team race” for the Premier League title? Then injuries hit Tottenham and they dropped, erm, 27 points off the top of the table?

Spurs really needed to solidify their backline. If Tottenham was going to make any real charge at the top 2 in the Premier League (stop laughing), improving their defensive quality would’ve been the best route.

However, if Eriksen is out the door, getting any talent to replace him in the mid helps. Regardless, the price Spurs paid and the likely return they’ll see from Ndomele this season almost feels like they were peer pressured into doing this transfer.

Also, for as much hype as there was about Ndomele as a top young talent–who were Spurs bidding against here? Did you hear any other clubs diving in on Ndomele? Griezmann, de Ligt, Felix…every big club in Europe was after them. But Ndomele? Bueller? Bueller?

As for Lyon, this is easy. Had they gotten the £65 million all up front, they’d have gotten an A. Still, extracting £56.5 million for a guy who tallied 1 goal and 7 assists for you is worth a solid B.

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Chops is the executive producer of High Press Soccer. He's an unabashed Liverpool fan who will absolutely let that bias seep into his reporting and analysis.

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