Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Tanguy Ndombele has had quite the journey over the past 18 months.
The 23-year-old arrived at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to much fanfare in 2019 in a club record deal, Spurs having reportedly agreed an initial fee of around £55million with Lyon.
However, Ndombele’s early days at Tottenham were far from smooth sailing amid injuries and loss of form.
Come the end of the season, the Frenchman had made 29 appearances in all competitions – seemingly reasonable, but he only started 12 Premier League games.
More worryingly, in Spurs’ game with Burnley in early March, he was hauled off at half-time by Jose Mourinho in a game that finished 1-1, and was criticised by the Portuguese afterwards.
“He has to know he has to do much better and know I cannot keep giving him opportunities to play because the team is much more important,” he said.
After the resumption of English football in June, Ndombele made just two appearances, and wasn’t even in the squad for the final three games.
Fast-forward a couple of months and Ndombele is once again a first-team regular, with 14 competitive appearances under his belt this term.
BBC Sport pundit and former Spurs ace Jermaine Jenas thinks the midfielder is now in the same “special” bracket as Harry Kane and Son heung-min.
“There is a reason Mourinho loves players like Eric Dier and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg because they give him a minimum of 7/10 every week,” Jenas wrote on BBC Sport.
“But a lot of the others are more than just reliable, they are special – like Harry Kane and Son Heung-min of course. Ndombele is another one in that bracket.
“With his technical ability, intelligent passing and physical power, he always had the potential to be one of the very best, he just took time to adjust to what Mourinho asks for.”
It can’t have been easy for Ndombele to be on the receiving end of Mourinho’s criticism – indeed, he recently said that, while they didn’t hurt him, they didn’t motivate him either.
However, he took them on board, ignored the naysayers, worked hard, and is now back in the manager’s good books and, more crucially, back in the first team.
For that, £200,000-a-week ace deserves huge praise.