Ever since Mauricio Pochettino took the reins at Tottenham, there has been a rather pragmatic approach towards transfer dealings. His predecessor, Andre-Vilas Boas, had little over 85 million to spend following the sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid. He brought in several mediocre players who failed to set the Premier League alight. Daniel Levy has since asked for a calm approach in the transfer window and that is just what Pochettino has given him.
Instead of making wholesale changes to the squad that he inherited, the Argentine manager focused on the players he already had and what he could make of them. Last season saw the arrival of Cameroonian Clinton N’jie from Olympique Lyon for a reported 9 million pounds. He was seen as a player with pace and dribbling skills that could add something different to Tottenham’s attack. At Lyon, he had established himself as an exciting player who could score goals and terrorize opposition defenses with his pace but his career at Tottenham failed to take off for many reasons.
First and foremost, N’jie failed to get used to the rigors of the Premier League. His build was perhaps too fragile to flourish in the Premier League, where defenders are ever ready to chop you down. Another reason could be that he was never given an extended run of games by Pochettino, who was also perhaps well aware of N’jie’s shortcomings. In all, the Cameroon-born played in just 8 league games for Spurs and made just a handful of appearances in other competitions, without a single goal to show for his efforts.
He also sustained a bad injury during last season in the month of December, when he damaged his Medial Collateral Ligament while playing against Monaco in a Europa League group stage game. The injury was originally expected to keep him out for 3 months, but the Cameroonian was out for a longer period. He eventually made his comeback from injury in May 2016 against Southampton, in what would be his last appearance of the season for the club.
Not many were impressed by N’jie during his time at White Hart Lane and one can understand why. Of course, he was a bit unlucky on the injury front. But even when given a chance, he failed to shine or even make a decent impact on games. All in all, he failed to settle at Tottenham. Spurs came agonizingly close to winning the Premier League, only for a late capitulation of sorts to take place, which saw them ending their season in 3rd place.
Pochettino would’ve obviously been very disappointed in his players who gave a lot throughout the season but failed in the very fag end of the campaign. It was unclear if Pochettino would’ve been willing to give N’jie another chance. He eventually targeted George Kevin- N’Koudou, another French-based player, who also plied his trade on the wings. The saga went on for nearly a month as the transfer was delayed due to the absence of a club president at Marseille. Eventually, N’koudou’s transfer was finalized. It also included N’jie going in the opposite direction on a season-long loan. Before this materialized, a move to Arsenal was also mooted for N’jie, but in the end nothing came of it.
A decent season at Stade Velodrome could see N’jie returning to White Hart Lane for another go at Premier League football, but he must earn that right by putting in top class performances at Marseille, where he is joined by fellow loanees Bafetimbi Gomis and Florian Thauvin. All three are now looking to get their careers back on track.