Jose Mourinho claims the tough love he handed out to Tanguy Ndombele is working – and insists the Tottenham flop can now fulfil his potential.
Club record £53m buy Ndombele has had a rocky ride under Mourinho, who has repeatedly criticised his performances and left him out of the Spurs team.
But the France midfielder is slowly starting to turn his form around and has now started five of his side’s seven Premier League games this season.
Mourinho, whose team face Ludogorets in the Europa League tonight, said: “His potential is great but I have to try to educate players.
“I'm not here to be their best friend, I'm here to be their coach so when I'm not happy I'm not happy. At this moment I'm happy with him.
“I like my relationship with the players not to depend on the fact they're playing or not playing.
“Sometimes there are players with personalities who change their relations with the coach and other people in the group. That was not the case with Tanguy.
“The case with Tanguy was myself not being happy at all with what he was giving us and my way to show it was obviously fighting a lot against that state of mind.
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“In this moment, I'm happy. I still think he can do better. His potential is huge. He's doing well, I'm happy with him – but he can do more.
“He can be fitter, give us 90 minutes without problems. He can be better. He's happy because he's playing, doing important things.”
Ndombele, who was linked with a move to Barcelona during the transfer window, has scored two goals in ten appearances for Spurs this season.
And he could start in midfield again away to Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets tonight after winning his way back into Mourinho’s good books.
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Team-mate Mousa Sissoko, a close friend, claims one reason for the 23-year-old’s improvement is the fact he’s finally learning the lingo.
Sissoko said: “Last season it was complicated for him. When you don’t speak the language it is difficult to be open with everyone and speak with everyone.
“This season is totally different, maybe because he has been playing and playing well and his English has improved a lot so he can speak with players in the dressing room.
“He is laughing and joking with everyone. That is what we wanted to see. When you come you need time to adapt. Everyone in the building is happy with what he is doing.”
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