Tottenham Hotspur’s chances of getting back into the Champions League are slim this season.
In Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, the Lilywhites face the previous two English champions, the reigning European champions and the club that have signed Cristiano Ronaldo.
However, Nuno Espirito Santo’s side have started strongly and will be keen to do what they can to stay in the top four.
They currently sit at the top of the Premier League as the only side in the competition with a perfect record.
There are games against Chelsea and Arsenal coming up after the international break, though, so that record could soon take a hit.
In Tanguy Ndombele, Nuno has a player who could prove to be a real gamechanger and help the Lilywhites find an extra creative spark to get them over the line.
It won’t come easily, though.
The Frenchman has made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t want to be at Tottenham and is set for crunch talks with both Nuno and Chief Football Officer Fabio Paratici this week (Evening Standard).
The central midfielder is frustrated that his two closest friends in the team, Moussa Sissoko and Serge Aurier, have been forced out.
That shouldn’t impact the way he plays, though, and it is high time that the former Lyon man – who earns a massive £200,000 per/week (Spotrac) – stopped sulking.
When the 24-year-old is on top of his game he is close to unplayable, and is certainly one of the best players at Tottenham.
His numbers last season were fantastic.
Across the 2020/21 Premier League season Ndombele chipped in with five goal contributions from central midfield (three goals and two assists) and his underlying numbers were sublime.
He completed more dribbles per game (2.2) and was fouled more times per game (1.8) than anyone at Spurs, whilst also contributing with 0.4 key passes and 1.2 tackles per game (WhoScored).
Ndombele’s ability to beat a man in midfield and win free-kicks in dangerous areas, as well as chipping in defensively and creating chances makes him a real asset.
Nuno will know this, and has – so far – deployed a 4-3-3 system in the Premier League that the player could easily slip into.
In those opening games it’s been Oliver Skipp, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Dele Alli in midfield, but Ndombele would suit the system perfectly.
With Skipp holding back and covering for the box-to-box running of both Hojbjerg and Dele, Spurs have been able to fluidly go from defence to attack.
This has been crucial in releasing the pacey attackers in Lucas Moura, Steven Bergwijn and Heung-Min Son.
Ndombele, on paper, should thrive in this system. His ability to beat a man, create space and find a pass is tailor made for one of the two box-to-box roles.
All that remains now is these crunch talks between the player, manager and Paratici.
If Ndombele can clear the air and get himself back into contention then he could start to seriously help the North London side.
As the fixtures build up in the busy periods – with the Europa Conference League to worry about on top of the Premier League – rotation will be crucial, and having the fantastic Ndombele coming in will be a huge boost.
If the Lilywhites are to put a challenge together to fight for the top four, it’s hard to see a way it can happen without Ndombele, so fans should be hoping the Frenchman will get involved after failing to find a move.