Report: Barcelona 'Reserve' Tanguy Ndombele, Eric Abidal 'In Love' with Player

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistNovember 30, 2018

LYON, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 27: Tanguy NDombele of Olympique Lyonnais during the Group F match of the UEFA Champions League between Olympique Lyonnais and Manchester City at Groupama Stadium on November 27, 2018 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)a .
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Barcelona have reportedly "reserved" Lyon midfielder and transfer target Tanguy Ndombele, with technical director Eric Abidal said to be "in love" with the player.

According to Sport, Abidal has been seriously impressed by the France international ever since the club started considering him as a possible alternative to Ajax playmaker Frenkie de Jong.

It's added that Barcelona believe Ndombele can go on to reach the same levels as Manchester United midfielder and fellow France international Paul Pogba.

"Last Tuesday [assistant technical secretary] Ramon Planes went to watch Lyon vs. Manchester City, a 2-2 UEFA Champions League draw, and his conclusions were highly positive [of Ndombele]," Sport's report said. "Thanks to his good relationship with the president of Lyon, Jean Michel Aulas, Abidal has 'reserved' the Frenchman, whose performances are attracting attention throughout Europe."

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Tanguy NDombele of Lyon gestures during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Manchester City and Olympique Lyonnais at Etihad Stadium on September 19, 2018 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by TF-Images/G
TF-Images/Getty Images

In addition to Barcelona, a number of Premier League teams are reported to be interested in the 21-year-old, including Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton.

However, Barcelona are in the box seat to sign Ndombele should they wish to press ahead with a deal.

Ndombele has developed into one of the outstanding young players in European football, and he was excellent alongside fellow youngster Houssem Aouar against City in the Champions League on Tuesday:

Scouted Football @ScoutedFtbl

🔴🔵 Houssem Aouar (20) vs Manchester City: 84 touches 55/62 passes 5/8 tackles 3/3 dribbles 🔴🔵 Tanguy Ndombèlé (21) vs Manchester City: 95 touches 74/79 passes 3/3 dribbles 2 interceptions Complete midfield performances against the best team in Europe. https://t.co/zMxIpIZvTh

Having only arrived at Lyon permanently in the summer for €8 million (£7.1 million), the French club can reflect on an exceptional piece of business.

Ndombele spent last season on loan at the Groupama Stadium from Amiens and quickly made an impression. He was dominating games from his central midfield berth, with his physicality and dynamism immediately standing out.

What sets the Frenchman apart is his ability on the ball, as he combines combativeness and composure with an apparent ease.

WhoScored.com have rated him as the best young player in the Champions League this season:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Top rated players aged 21 and under in the Champions League this season (3+ apps): 🥇 T. Ndombele -- Lyon (7.70) 🥈 N. Vlasic -- CSKA Moscow (7.69) 🥉 N. Mazraoui -- Ajax (7.49) https://t.co/z2YUS3pDIM https://t.co/HRZWzpH5g3

Football journalist Yousef Teclab has said he can see why Europe's elite clubs would be interested in securing his services:

Yousef Teclab @yousef_teclab

Not surprised Man City are interested in Lyon's Tanguy Ndombele. Has enjoyed a good start to the season and deserved his call up to the French squad. Would be a good replacement for Fernandinho. #MCFC https://t.co/1naK0tdlWE

The speculation linking Barcelona with a move for either Ndombele or De Jong suggests manager Ernesto Valverde is keen to bolster his options in the middle third of the field despite the arrivals of Philippe Coutinho, Arturo Vidal and Arthur Melo in this calendar year.

Where Barcelona appear short is having a replacement for Sergio Busquets. While there are a number of options to play in advanced areas ahead of the veteran, there's nobody who can replicate his influence in front of the back four knitting the game together.

Ndombele hasn't been that type of player for Lyon. While he needs to improve his productivity, he is at his most effective when given license to push forward. As such, he'd face major competition for a first-team place if he was to join Barcelona.