Midfielder | Lyon | France
Over the past 18 months or so Tanguy Ndombele has made himself one of the hottest properties in Europe, grabbing with both hands the second chance that he has been given. Originally a youth player at Guingamp, he was let go as a result of a perceived poor attitude. Eventually Amiens gave him another opportunity to make it and, aged 19, he made his professional debut.
He has barely missed a match since, first playing 30 matches and contributing two goals and seven assists as he helped Amiens to an unlikely promotion. Already scouted by bigger-name clubs, his excellent opening to Amiens’ first top-flight season spurred Lyon into action and he joined OL in a deal eventually worth €22.5 million.
Ndombele fitted effortlessly into Lyon’s midfield, putting in a man-of-the-match performance in his first Lyon game – a defeat to PSG in which he hit the bar, which was still shaking post-match. Playing alongside Lucas Tousart and Nabil Fekir, Ndombele has consistently caught the eye with his lung-bursting, line-breaking cross-field dribbles, along with his eye for a defence-splitting pass. Appearing to be un-phased by anything thrown at him, Ndombele ended 2017 with four assists and hero status at the Parc OL.
2018 has been…
… Tanguy’s year. Beginning 2018 as he began the 2017/18 season, Ndombele starred in Lyon’s 2-1 win over PSG (arguably his third MOM performance in one season against the future champions) and his regular towering performances, including three assists, helped Lyon to third place and Champions League qualification.
This season has continued on the same upward trajectory. There are still some non-matches – a contagious disease at Lyon – which have led to a couple of early substitutions and public criticism from coach and president, but Ndombele remains one of the team’s most consistent performers and, while Tousart has been dropped and Aouar has taken a while to hit form, Ndombele has been the one to maintain the high standards of last year’s midfield three.
He has four Ligue 1 assists to his name and although the one big criticism of his game is a poor goalscoring return for someone so good in the air and possessing a powerful shot, he has scored two important goals against Hoffenheim to help Lyon qualify for the knock-out stages of the Champions League, while his performances against Manchester City won’t have done his price tag any harm.
After being an U21 regular, helping set France on the way to European Championship qualification, he has also made the step up internationally, taking advantage of Corentin Tolisso’s injury and Adrien Rabiot’s exile to join the full squad and impress in his performances so far – he marked his debut (ironically at Guingamp’s Roudourou stadium) by battling to win the ball and serve Mbappe to score.
If the rumours are true, Lyon already had to fend off multi-million pound offers for Ndombele last season. The constant links have not gone away, with Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham among the names frequently linked. Jean-Michel Aulas knows how to squeeze the best out of his players before then squeezing the best possible price for them, and this coming summer may well see Ndombele leave for silly money.
As long as he keeps fit and keeps up his recent motivation, his eventual owners will have a world-beater on their hands. Strong, fast, a good tackler, a great passer and a fantastic big-game temperament, Ndombele can do everything that you would want from a midfielder, whether defensive, box-to-box or attacking.
B – He could become the best of Kante and Pogba rolled into one