Sky Sports pundit Paul Robinson has described Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Tanguy Ndombele as “undoubtedly talented” but also feels he is not giving Jose Mourinho the “effort and application” needed to deliver in the team.
Ndombele has been in and out of the Tottenham side since Mourinho replaced Mauricio Pochettino as Spurs head coach, and was handed a rare start in last Saturday’s Premier League trip to Burnley, deployed in a deeper role in midfield alongside Oliver Skipp.
However, he failed to have much of an impact on the game and, with Tottenham trailing 1-0, Mourinho hauled the £54million man off at the break, with Spurs going on to claim a 1-1 draw.
The Portuguese publicly criticised Ndombele after the game, being quoted by The Mail as saying: “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 (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.”
In the following match, the Champions League last-16 second leg at RB Leipzig, the Frenchman was an unused substitute as Spurs were beaten 3-0 on the night and knocked out of the competition 4-0 on aggregate.
Speaking after that game, Robinson told Sky Sports: “He’s been given all the tools, all the equipment to better himself to get match fit and he hasn’t accepted that.
“That cuts a figure of a manager who looks like he’s tried the arm around the shoulder, he looks like he’s tried the big stick and he’s just not getting the effort and application back from him.
“He’s undoubtedly talented. But he cuts a figure of somebody who’s not interested far too often and you can’t get away with that. Mourinho looks frustrated because he knows the boy has got talent.”
Ndombele arrived at Tottenham to much fanfare but things simply haven’t been going well for him, with Mourinho criticising his player publicly for a perceived lack of effort off the ball.
Robinson is not the only pundit to agree with the Portuguese – fellow Sky Sports man Jamie Carragher went as far as to label Ndombele “nothing short of a disgrace” off the ball against Burnley.
How will Ndombele react to the criticism? Will he step up his game in a bid to prove his coach wrong, or has he mentally begun looking for a new job? Watch this space.