FootballFootball LeagueLigue 1

Lyon’s Tanguy Ndombélé could be the next great midfield export from Ligue 1

January 10, 2019January 6th, 2022

HE is the one who bossed the Manchester City midfield in two Champions League matches in his first ever Champions League campaign.

He is the one who made many differences against Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1, both last season and this one. He is also the one who scored twice against Hoffenheim – home and away – which proved crucial for Lyon to go through to the last 16 of the most prestigious European club’s competition. He is the one who made his debut for France in October against Iceland.

2018 has been a wonderful year for Tanguy Ndombélé, one of the new gems of French football, coveted by the whole of Europe and destined to a great career. In the space of twelve months, he went from being a promising youngster to a French international linked to the top clubs on the continent.

At just 22 (his birthday was on December 28), the Paris-born and bred midfielder has reached a new level. Unlike Kylian Mbappé, who burst onto the scene so young and so quickly, Ndombélé has been slow to emerge at the top. Until last season and his move from Amiens to Lyon in the summer of 2017, he had never played in the French top flight!

He was released from the Guingamp academy at 17 years old, failed trials at many others clubs and only Amiens, then in the second division, gave him a chance. He took his opportunity and never looked back. He is now certainly one of the best midfielders in Ligue 1.

There is some Yaya Touré in him. The way he drives the ball forward, his technical ability, his power. At 1m81, he is not the tallest but he is so strong and it’s so hard to get the ball off him. He is perfectly suited for the Premier League and England is surely his most likely destination once he leaves Lyon. 

Pep Guardiola was hugely impressed by him after Manchester City lost one and drew one against him. His performances against the Cityzens were indeed impressive. You could see him easily working with Guardiola and improving massively under him. Imagine as well the damage he could be doing in Spain.

A club like Real Madrid needs someone like him. Juventus still have very fond memories of Paul Pogba. Ndombélé is a different kind of player than his France teammate but he would bring something totally different than what the Old Lady already has in midfield. We could actually find a reason why each of the big European clubs should go for the Parisian.

Jean-Michel Aulas, the OL president, has already put an £80 million pounds price tag on his player although he says that he won’t let him go in January, whatever the offers on the table. It is just a matter of time though before Ndombélé departs the Rhone. He is starting to outgrow Lyon and Ligue 1. He still needs to be more consistent and has had some matches where he has lacked focus and concentration.

Things seem to come too easy for him at the time and he needs to be less nonchalant and more determined. But this will come with age and when he joins a bigger club as well. In the meantime, he should stay until the end of the season at Lyon where the first six months of 2019 will be huge for him. 2019 has to be the year where Tanguy Ndombélé gets to the next level again.

So far, he has gone step by step towards the top. He has been very good in Ligue 2 with Amiens two seasons ago. Then, he has been excellent in Ligue 1 with Lyon last year. He raised his game again to be impressive in the Champions League and to feature and do well for France this season. Can 2019 be even better than 2018 for him?

Didier Deschamps, Les Bleus’ head coach, Bruno Genesio, the Lyon manager are convinced that there is much more to come from Tanguy Ndombélé. A move abroad in the summer would certainly help him reach new heights. Who will win the race to sign him? We will have to wait a bit to find out. But there will be many teams on the starting line.