'Pochettino looked me in the eyes' – Ndombele explains record-breaking Tottenham transfer

The midfielder joined from Lyon for a fee which could rise to €70m, and he says the Spurs manager was the main reason behind his decision

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Tottenham’s record signing Tanguy Ndombele says Mauricio Pochettino was the key in convincing him to switch Lyon for London.

The 22-year-old midfielder joined in a deal which could see the Ligue 1 side bank €70 million (£63m/$79m), smashing Spurs’ previous record outlay and leaving fans champing at the bit for the new season.

Ndombele was a wanted man this summer, with Paris Saint-Germain in particular heavily linked with a move.

But Spurs got their man, underlining their growing status at the top end of the European game following their Champions League final appearance last season.

“It was deeply thought through,” Ndombele told L’Equipe. “Tottenham have one of the best managers in the world.

“The fact that he [Pochettino] wants you, it makes you want to come work with him. He was the one who shifted my decision.

“It is difficult to describe but he knows how to touch people, to leave a mark on people. He looked at me in the eyes and said: ‘Come with me, I am sure that you will progress.’

“It is these types of little things that made me want to sign over there. I could see that he really, genuinely wanted me, that he genuinely liked me.”

The French international announced himself as one of world football’s most exciting young players in two years at Lyon, with his incisive dribbling in midfield set to offer Spurs a new dimension to their play.

It has been a startling rise to stardom. with Ndombele making his senior France debut last year, coming on as a substitute for Paul Pogba, and will doubtless draw comparisons with his midfield compatriots Pogba and N’Golo Kante in the Premier League.

But Ndombele is his own player, and he is confident of making the step up from Ligue 1.

“I have heard it all,” he said on the comparisons. “I am here to make my own path. Paul has made his own in England. I am Tanguy, not the new [Michael] Essien, not the new Pogba.

“In my head I am ready, but it is the on-pitch stuff that does the talking. Let’s wait for the matches to come and see if I am ready or not.

“I do not have a lot of fears. But it is football; how many people have been good and then the year after, they struggle? We are going to make it so that things go well.”

Ndombele’s first year as a senior pro coincided with Pochettino’s first year in charge of Spurs, but the club aren’t new to him.

He is excited for the challenge, and has no regrets about turning down the chance to join his hometown club in PSG.

“Yes, PSG are a great club, in the city in which I grew up,” he admitted.

“Today, I am not disappointed. Not at all. Aside from football, as a man, it is better for me to go to London, it will allow me to discover a new country, a new culture of football. I am going to come out of my cocoon.

“I am someone who watches a lot of football, so I know [the club]. I used to watch Robbie Keane, [Dimitar] Berbatov.

“When I look at Tottenham, I see a big European club. It is another dimension. To go to the next level, it was the best choice.”

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