Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho has waxed lyrical about Spurs academy graduate Japhet Tanganga as he closes in on a return to the first team after injury.
The 21-year-old enjoyed a great breakthrough season with Tottenham last term, making his debut in the League Cup defeat to Colchester before making his Premier League bow against Liverpool on 11 January.
Although Tottenham fell to a 1-0 defeat, Tanganga – part of a three-man defence along with Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez – put in a great performance, especially considering the baptism of fire in taking on Jurgen Klopp’s then all-conquering side.
The versatile youngster made 11 senior appearances for Spurs in all competitions last season, including six in the Premier League, and in July, signed a new long-term contract – reportedly worth £25,000-a-week – which keeps him at the North London club until 2025.
This term, however, Tanganga has made one appearance for Mourinho’s charges – the League Cup victory over Chelsea in September – due to a thigh injury, but the manager was able to give a positive update ahead of Tottenham’s Europa League meeting with Antwerp.
“Tanganga is the only player we really say has an injury or is in treatment from quite an important injury,” Mourinho told Football London.
“Very unlucky kid, he had a problem from before lockdown, then hard work to get back, played Chelsea in the cup and then this injury.
“But he’s coming. Great professional, great sense of responsibility and he’s working well to come back.”
Tanganga was very much one of Tottenham’s success stories during a difficult 2019-20 campaign, making his first-team breakthrough and looking like a future regular, but injuries have sadly hampered his progress this term.
That said, Mourinho clearly rates him highly and hopefully it won’t be long before he’s back on the pitch and contributing to his side’s good start to the season.