Conte says Europa Conference League is 'important' to Tottenham
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Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has been warned that another “six managers” could not resolve Tanguy Ndombele’s situation, with the Frenchman yet to live up to his full potential in north London. The Italian is in the process of evaluating his squad ahead of the January transfer window, with Ndombele potentially at risk.
In Spurs’ UEFA Conference League outing against NS Mura on Thursday evening, Conte claimed that it was a good chance for certain peripheral figures to impress.
Ndombele was among them, but Tottenham’s evening got off to a shocking start when Tomi Horvat opened the scoring for the home side with a superb strike.
Ryan Sessegnon’s first-half red card made it even more difficult for the Lilywhites, and it took until the closing stages for Harry Kane to bring them level.
And after Ndombele was hauled off, a late, late strike on the counter-attack stole a famous victory for Mura, leaving Spurs vulnerable in Group G.
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Despite splashing out a club-record £54million for former Lyon man Ndombele in 2019, club legend Hoddle stands with fans in believing that the 24-year-old is at a crossroads.
“Trying to find a position for him… I’m not sure he’s good enough to be a [number] ten. A ten has to score nowadays, he’s not a great goalscorer,” he told BT Sport.
“I think he has to play as an eight position if they want to play in that three, depending on what they want in midfield.
“For me, it’s down to him. It’s nothing to do with the managers. They could have another six managers come in. He’s got to up his game, he’s got to improve his game.
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“There’s parts of his game… yes he does wonderful things with a football, we all used to do that on the playground years ago!
“It’s about doing it at the right time in the right place, and your end product needs to be there if you’re a midfielder, releasing it at the right time.
“For me, I think Conte will sit him down and have a one-to-one like nobody else at the club and say ‘look, you’re a good player, I fancy putting you in the team, but you’ve got to give me this, this and this’.”
The Tottenham boss is believed to be assessing his squad ahead of the January window, with sporting director Fabio Paratici by his side.
Figures like Ndombele and Dele Alli, who could be sold on for reasonable transfer fees, could be at risk if they do not show improved form.
Indeed, transfer insider Fabrizio Romano claimed that Conte will actively try and change the mentality of both stars.
Whether that can be achieved over the next few weeks will soon be discovered, but opportunities like the one against NS Mura may not come around too often.
With points to be fought for in the big games, Conte may not have time to experiment with Ndombele in the way which Hoddle feels may be necessary, meaning the speculation which surrounded his potential departure from the club in the summer may well resurface once the window swings back open in January.
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