Tottenham boss Antonio Conte has urged Tanguy Ndombele to use his quality for the good of the team rather than as an individual – admitting the Frenchman needs to work ‘much harder’ then the rest of the squad.
The midfielder has had a difficult start to life in north London since his £63million switch from Lyon in 2019, often impressing with his dribbling skills but leaving plenty to be desired in terms of his work ethic – and he has struggled to produce consistency under his first four managers.
Conte can recognise that Ndombele has the quality to cut the mustard at Spurs but believes his biggest problem is his positioning – saying he cannot just ‘run around the pitch’ and must work hard for the team as a collective.
Antonio Conte has urged midfielder Tanguy Ndombele to work much harder for Tottenham
Ndombele needs to work on his positioning, says Conte – who is sure of the player’s talent
Speaking at his press conference ahead of his first home game against Leeds United on Sunday, Conte said: ‘I have seen many managers struggle with his position. He has the quality. He has to understand it is a team and he has to play into the team.
‘It is important to do what the position asks you to do. We are working very hard. He has to work much more than the others. He has talent but he has to put it into the team for the team, not for the single player.
‘Every single player has to know what he has to do. If every player just runs around the pitch, it will be a mess.’
Ndombele was signed by Mauricio Pochettino and was given chances by his successor Jose Mourinho, but he quickly fell out with the former Chelsea boss – who was scathing of a particular performance against Burnley, which saw him hook the player at half time and later admit the team ‘didn’t have a midfield’.
The former Lyon has made two substitute appearances under Conte so far, and the Italian wants him to understand his role in the team
The Frenchman has endured a difficult start to life at Spurs and fell out with Jose Mourinho (R)
He has been regularly linked with moves away – and big clubs like Barcelona and Bayern Munich have often been credited with interest.
Ndombele has made five starts in the Premier League this season under previous boss Nuno Espirito Santo, and has been a substitute in both of Conte’s first two games in charge.
He came on for 22 minutes in the 3-2 Conference League win over Vitesse, and featured for just five minutes in the 0-0 draw at Everton. He has scored twice this season – once in the Carabao Cup against Wolves and once in the league, coming against Newcastle.
Conte insists his players need time to adapt to his demands as he gets to know his new side
Ndombele is just one of many players Conte is trying to work closely with to improve them after a poor start to the season under Nuno. Spurs are ninth in the table ahead of their game against Leeds, and the Italian wants to help the players reach ‘another level’ to turn their campaign around.
‘Especially when you arrive at a new club, you speak to all of the players,’ he added. ‘You take time to have one on one with all the players, to know them all, not only through the football aspect. They need to know me and I need to know them.
‘I have found players with a great will to work and a great will to improve. I’m the first person to know that we need a bit of time because this team is a young team.
‘My first task is to try to improve the players, to bring my players to another level. In this team, many players can do this.