With Premier League football off the cards for the foreseeable future, we’re looking to keep our readers entertained and return to our ‘Transfer Battles’ feature. In this piece, we’re grading teams on the deals for the players who should have been playing next weekend, pairing them up against a would-be opponent.
Sheffield United’s next game would have been an absolutely huge fixture at Bramall Lane against Tottenham Hotspur, with both sides firmly in the fight for European football next season.
As it stands, the Blades are in seventh place in the Premier league table with 43 points, whilst Spurs are one place and two points behind them, although they have played one game more (BBC Sport).
Nobody would have expected Chris Wilder’s side to be in this position having only been promoted from the Championship last season, whilst it could be argued that Jose Mourinho’s men are underachieving having been top four regulars for the last four years (Transfermarkt).
It would have surely been a blood and thunder fixture in South Yorkshire as it usually is with Sheffield United and a key area of the pitch which could have helped to decide the outcome would have been in midfield.
Two powerhouses who may well have played in the middle of the park are John Lundstram and Tanguy Ndombele, but who has proven to be a better signing and would have come out on top? We’ve taken a closer look…
He may have taken his time to fully settle in to life at Bramall Lane, but there is no doubt that Lundstram is now a key player for Sheffield United.
The 26-year-old joined from Oxford United in 2017 for just £504,000 (via Transfermarkt), but initially struggled whilst the club were in the second tier. Indeed, last season he managed to play just 10 Championship games as the Blades stormed to promotion.
However, he has managed to break into Wilder’s team in the Premier League and has been a regular this term, making 27 appearances including 23 starts. He has been a proper box-to-box midfielder and has chipped in with an impressive four goals and three assists thus far (Transfermarkt) whilst also averaging 1.5 tackles, 1.3 clearances and 1.0 interceptions per game (SofaScore).
His late runs into the box would have caused real problems for Spurs, who haven’t been solid at the back this season having shipped 40 league goals (BBC Sport).
TT Grade: A
Unlike Lundstram, Spurs shelled out a lot of money to sign Ndombele from Lyon in the summer of 2019. In fact, they paid a club record £53.8 million to secure the Frenchman’s services (BBC Sport).
However, despite costing over 100 times what the Blades paid for their midfield powerhouse, Ndombele has statistically had less of an impact this season. Indeed he has scored just twice in the Premier League and only has two assists to his name (Transfermarkt). Added to that his defensive stats are also inferior, he is averaging 1.2 tackles, 0.3 clearances and 0.7 interceptions per match (SofaScore).
In his last appearance against Burnley, he only managed to play 45 minutes and in that time he made zero sprints, even less than goalkeeper Hugo Lloris (Sky Sports). Producing such limited effort against Sheffield United would have surely seen him caught out, with the Blades often playing at an extremely high tempo even against the top sides (sufc.co.uk).
TT Grade: C
In truth, the evidence from this season suggests that there would only be one winner in the battle of these two midfield powerhouses. Whilst Ndombele may be the more expensive of the two, he simply hasn’t had as big an impact for Spurs as Lundstram has for Sheffield United, both offensively and defensively. There is no doubt that so far, the Blades midfielder has proven to be much better value for money than his French opponent.
Spurs fans, has Tanguy Ndombele been a disappointment so far? Would you rather have John Lundstram? Let us know your thoughts below…
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