After what feels like an eternity since their last win, Tottenham took all 3 points against West Ham on Tuesday night for the first time since February and yet it’s still not the big story.
After an own goal by Tomas Soucek followed up by a Harry Kane strike, news broke that midfielder Tanguy Ndombele has told Jose Mourinho he wants to leave the club.
According to French journalist Julien Maynard, Ndombele told Mourinho during a meeting this week that he didn’t want to work under the Portuguese manager anymore and would like to leave the club after this season ends.
Players reportedly tried to mediate the situation between the two, telling Ndombele that he’ll play more and gain Mourinho’s trust if he performed well in training but the ex-Lyon man has made his mind up. Maynard ended with stating that communication between player and manager is “completely broken”.
It’s something many saw coming the moment Mourinho was appointed back in November, pointing to his previous relationship with Paul Pogba at Manchester United. Both players have a similar laid-back demeanour both on and off the pitch, something that has always rubbed Mourinho up the wrong way. Ndombele’s fitness issues since joining the club won’t have helped his cause either, with Mourinho already publicly dragging him about it pre-lockdown. In March following Spurs’ 1-1 draw with Burnley, Mourinho said:
“In the first half we didn’t have a midfield. Of course I’m not speaking of Skipp because he’s a kid of 19 who’s played two hours in the last few days. I don’t criticise him at all. But I’m not going to run away and I have to say he [Ndombele] has had enough time to come to a different level. I know the Premier League is difficult, and some players take a long time to adapt to a different league. But a player with his potential has to give us more than he is giving us, especially when you see how Lucas, Lo Celso and those players are playing. I was expecting more in the first half from him.”
Mourinho had replaced Ndombele at half-time in that game, and he hasn’t featured for even a single minute since.
The two were seen breaching lockdown rules during the season break for what looked like private fitness sessions, with Ndombele going running in Hampstead Heath, London. It was thought that Jose was making a bigger effort to help Ndombele and accommodate his obvious talent.
If Tanguy, 23, feels like nothing is going to improve under Jose then it makes sense for him to want out. Mourinho has only been there a few months and it’s not a similar situation to Pogba’s where he could likely outlast the former Inter manager.
His undeniable ability will mean he’s unlikely to be short of suitors but one problem could be chairman Daniel Levy. After splashing out a club-record £55 million just last summer he will likely want an amount that eclipses, or at least matches, that fee to ensure Spurs don’t look silly. With the current climate it’s hard to see anyone stumping up that amount of money to Spurs to take him away, which could see him stay for at least another half-season.