Tanguy Ndombele could not have made a more immediate impression in a Tottenham shirt and, if the £65million man has settled quickly, it is in no small part thanks to Moussa Sissoko.
Ndombele took one minute and four deft touches to set Spurs on the way to victory on his debut against Juventus on Sunday, assisting Lucas Moura seconds after coming on with his new side trailing 2-1.
The 22-year-old has spent his first fortnight at Spurs shadowing France team-mate Sissoko, who has already earned the moniker of ‘Tanguy’s big brother’ at the club.
In his first interview with a UK newspaper on the eve of the 3-2 win over Juve in Singapore, Ndombele was again side-by-side with Sissoko, who helped to translate for his new midfield partner.
“He knows how it works here,” Ndombele told Standard Sport. “He’s been in England for more than six years, so he can teach me the good things to do, how we work here and what we can do to improve. I’ve been following him since he was in France.
“To come to club and know someone, especially from the national team, makes it easier so I’m very happy. I hope me and Moussa can get a lot of success together.”
Sissoko is evidently enjoying the role, which is further evidence of his own transformation from outcast to dressing-room leader.
“He says he likes having me as his big brother!” said the 29-year-old, translating for Ndombele. “He says it’s a big thing because I’m helping him with everything.”
Sissoko is the perfect person to mentor Ndombele because he has been on the same journey from Ligue 1 to the Premier League and he knows what it takes to be both a success and failure in England.
“I know when you come from another country it’s not easy, especially when you don’t speak the language,” said Sissoko, who took two seasons to show his true quality at Spurs. “The lesson I can give to him is to be patient and not to worry about his quality.
“I’m a good example. It can take time to adapt. For some players it can take a month, a week but for others players more. He has to be patient. He has the quality, he just has to believe in himself.”
Ndombele, clearly, does not lack belief. His move from Lyon could eventually cost Spurs £65m—Sissoko was also a club-record signing, albeit jointly with Erik Lamela—and he is the first new face in Mauricio Pochettino’s squad in over 18 months. A rapid rise from the fifth-tier of French football to the Champions League does not faze him, however.
“I don’t feel any pressure,” said Ndombele, who played on the left of a midfield diamond at Singapore’s National Stadium. “I’m proud because I’m the club-record signing. Now what I have to do is show my quality on the pitch and show that Tottenham did well to spend this money on me.
“To come to England was my dream. I spoke with the manager, so I knew Tottenham was a big team, especially after what we did last year. I was excited to join a big team. That’s why I signed here.”
Pochettino, who speaks French, was crucial in persuading Ndombele that Tottenham was the right club to continue his development, although Ndombele preferred to keep the contents of their summer meeting private.
“I cannot tell you what the gaffer told me, only that I was happy with what he said,” Ndombele said, with more help from Sissoko. “And that’s why I signed here!”
One of the areas where Sissoko has been particularly beneficial is preparing Ndombele for Pochettino’s gruelling pre-season regime. It took the former Newcastle player several months to adapt to the Argentine’s demands and Ndombele admits it is worlds apart from what he experienced at Lyon.
“It’s totally different to France,” said Ndombele. “In England, you’re working very hard, especially at Tottenham. It will be for all our benefit. We want to achieve something at the end of the season.”
In Sissoko, he has a great example to follow and if Ndombele’s first season in English football is half as impressive as Sissoko’s third, he will prove at astute signing. “The fans can expect me to deliver a big season,” he said. “That’s the only thing I can say at the moment.”
As for Sissoko, he hopes that his new team-mate will help him to reach even greater heights this season.
“Last year, it’s true, I had a great season and now I need to do even better,” he said. “A lot of people now expect a lot from me. That’s normal.”