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    Tanguy Ndombele has finally opened up on the scathing criticism thrown at him by his own manager Jose Mourinho earlier in the year.

    Following a dismal performance against Burnley at Turf Moor in March, Mourinho substituted the club’s £65million record signing at half-time before singling him out for criticism in his post-match press conference.

    ‘In the first half we didn’t have a midfield,’ Mourinho had said bluntly, before adding: ‘But I’m not going to run away and I have to say he [Ndombele] has had enough time to come to a different level.

    Jose Mourinho caused a stir when he publicly criticised record signing Tanguy Ndombele

    ‘I know the Premier League is difficult and some players take a long time to adapt to a different league. But a player with his potential has to give us more than he is giving us, especially when you see how Lucas (Moura), (Giovani) Lo Celso and those players are playing. I was expecting more in the first half from him.’

    Since that incident at the end of last season, Ndombele has played his way back into Spurs’ regular plans, and has now opened up on the impact Mourinho’s words had upon him.

    The 23-year-old told Sky Sports News: ‘His words didn’t hurt me. They didn’t necessarily motivate me either.

    ‘It was just something that I assimilated and took on board. Of course it’s not something that you like to hear, those sort of words, but that was last season and we are looking to the future.’ 

    Against Burnley in March Ndombele looked well off the pace and was substituted at half-time

    Against Burnley in March Ndombele looked well off the pace and was substituted at half-time

    Tottenham broke their usually conservative spending habits to make Ndombele their record signing in July 2019, after paying Lyon £65m for his services and handing the player a six-year deal.

    After a poor start under Mauricio Pochettino, Mourinho came in and Ndombele still failed to live up to his price tag. Their relationship was clearly frosty and Ndombele only made 12 Premier League starts in the entire season. He was reported to have sought a transfer with the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich interested.

    One infamous video of his woeful defending against Wolves, in which Pedro Neto ran past him while Ndombele barely broke into a jog, went viral. When asked about the video, Mourinho responded by laughing. 

    By contrast, the midfielder has featured in all six of Spurs’ league games so far this season, starting four, but still feels he can reach new heights in the Premier League and prove any lingering doubters wrong.

    Ndombele added: ‘I don’t think we have seen the best of Tanguy Ndombele yet. I’m on the right track but there’s still more to come.’

    ‘Between France and England there’s a real difference in the intensity of the matches. Last season my head just wasn’t in the right place. This season it’s going a lot better.’ 

    This season things are looking up for Ndombele, and the player himself expects big progress

    This season things are looking up for Ndombele, and the player himself expects big progress

    Last month Mourinho insisted that he finally ‘believes’ in Ndombele after seeing a change in his attitude. 

    After Ndombele scored the winning goal against Lokomotiv Plovdiv in their Europa League clash, Mourinho said: ‘Tanguy is in a process of evolution. Last season he wasn’t. He was stuck in a situation where I couldn’t see evolution.

    ‘Now he is in a moment where he is training very, very well.

    ‘Now I believe in Tanguy. I never doubted his ability but last season I doubted his effort and motivation. Now I think that Tanguy can do well for us.’

    Then, after Ndombele came through 90 minutes for the first time in 2020 in a 3-1 win over Shkendija, Mourinho said: ‘I’m very happy. He brought a very good dynamic to the team. He has gone in a good direction. 

    ‘I don’t want players to moan, I don’t want players to feel frustrated, I don’t want players to feel that I have something against them when I don’t pick them. I want players to fight for the minutes they want on the pitch.’

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