For most of his 18 months at Tottenham Hotspur, Tanguy Ndombele had looked off the pace, unfit, uninterested and seemingly on course to be one of the club's worst ever singings.
That came off the back of a record £65million deal to land him from Lyon in the summer of 2019 with a view to becoming Tottenham's midfield powerhouse and only led to a highly disappointing first season at White Hart Lane where he struggled to stay on the field for 90 minutes, let alone dominate it.
As recently as the summer he was out of favour in the first team, marginalised by Jose Mourinho and seemingly on the way out. However, fast forward six months and he has blossomed into one of the Tottenham manager's most important players after a resurgence in the first half of the 2020-21 campaign.
Tanguy Ndombele celebrates scoring against Sheffield United on Sunday in a 3-1 win for SpursInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
The midfielder netted with an unorthodox lob during a fantastic midfield display at the Blades
Sunday's 3-1 victory at Sheffield United capped one of his best performances in a Spurs shirt, which saw him net a fabulous goal and complete his first 90 minutes in the Premier League since December 2019.
Ndombele usually plays with a poker face, but even he couldn't help but smile after scoring Spurs' third goal, which has taken them just four points behind Premier League leaders Manchester United in the race for the title.
What's changed in half a season? How has Ndombele gone from being seemingly set for a Spurs exit to being an integral member of a title push that at the start of the season looked well out of reach for the north London club?
Sunday showed part of that answer when Mourinho lined up with a 3-5-2 formation, that saw Ndombele sit deep in the midfield alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
After a poor first season at Tottenham, Ndombele has grown to become an important player
Fans are hoping they are finally seeing the £65million worth of investment in the midfielder as the ideal replacement to Mousa Dembele (above) who left at the start of 2019Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Spurs have struggled to find an ideal place in midfield to make best use of the Frenchman's ability and he has often played further up the pitch as a playmaker. At Bramall Lane though he played a similar role from a deeper position, which he looked more comfortable in.
He can now pick the ball up from deep positions and charge forward, with his physical strength and highly impressive ball control making him the replacement for Mousa Demebele, who departed in 2019, that many fans dreamed of when he initially signed. On Sunday's evidence he looks even better given that he carries a goal threat too.
Perhaps more importantly he looks fitter to be able to play the role he was deployed in. It was Mauricio Pochettino who signed the 24-year-old and in his first few games at least Ndombele did play a little deeper until it became apparent he could not cover the ground needed, or at the very least couldn't do it for more than an hour, before fatiguing.
Once Pochettino was sacked and Mourinho came in, his Spurs career looked in serious jeopardy when the Portuguese admitted in an interview, with more than a little frustration, that Ndombele refused to play in a Boxing Day