CLEMENT LENGLET apologised for his English before taking questions – and then spoke our lingo almost flawlessly.
It should come as no surprise given how much better continental Europeans take to learning languages compared to us hopeless Brits.
But also because a switch to these shores – and specifically Tottenham – has been on the cards for over a year for the Frenchman, so perhaps he has had time to swot up.
Chatting to only two journalists including SunSport during Spurs’ trip to Israel last weekend, Lenglet revealed he had the chance to join the North Londoners last summer but opted against it.
Yet with game-time reduced last term at Barcelona, the amiable centre-back reconsidered last month and completed a season-long loan to Antonio Conte’s side.
Lenglet, 27, revealed: “Last year wasn’t the moment (to come to Tottenham).
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“I was playing a lot with Barcelona the year before (in the 2020-21 season) and I was with a lot of energy to play for Barcelona.
“The last year I played less so it was a good opportunity for me this summer.
“I spoke with Fabio (Paratici, Tottenham’s managing director of football), with the manager, with my team-mates to take the decision. It was very clear for me.”
Conte was keen to sign a new left-sided centre-back earlier this summer with Inter Milan’s Alessandro Bastoni and RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol being top – if pricey – targets.
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In the end they settled on Lenglet on a loan, effectively deferring the opportunity to spend big in that position for a year.
But that does not mean that if the France international is a hit this season that Spurs may not look to sign him permanently.
Although the lack of option or obligation to buy in the loan terms means a deal would have to be thrashed out.
Asked what would happen to him if he is to flourish this term, Lenglet replied: “I don’t know.
“For the moment, I need to play, I need to be good. I hope this happens and if it’s like this, we’ll speak more later. But for the moment I need to work to be a good player.”
Asked if that is what the club had said to him, he replied: “I don’t know. We haven’t spoken like this.”
Lenglet did speak to close mate Hugo Lloris before coming to Spurs, having played with the club captain and goalkeeper for France.
Although Lenglet’s last appearance for Les Bleus came in November.
While he missed out on the last squad altogether after falling out of favour at Barca.
With the World Cup on the horizon, the defender admitted the chance to earn an international recall was a big factor in moving to the Premier League.
He added: “The World Cup is important for me. I missed the last selection.
“I wasn’t in the team. When you are a football player, you want to play these types of competitions. I’m here to play, to help the team to play good and to be better.
“I hope that if I have an opportunity to go with the selection, it will be for me a dream. I’m working for that too.”
Lenglet could make his competitive Spurs debut today (SAT) at home to Southampton.
He will be battling it out for a starting spot with Ben Davies, who has returned to fitness after struggling with an ankle injury during pre-season.
That left side of a back three is the Frenchman’s most likely route to a first-team spot with Eric Dier and Cristian Romero nailed-on starters in Conte’s team.
Lenglet showed an attacking side of his game during Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Roma in Haifa with one mazy run and pinpoint cross in the second half.
And the new-boy, who can also play in the centre of a three, is delighted to be following in the footsteps of compatriots like Thierry Henry in gracing England’s top flight.
Speaking about his tactical role, Lenglet added: “It depends on the game.
“Against Roma I think we needed this in my position high up the pitch to attack the space. I tried to help the team with my run and my cross. We didn’t score a goal but I tried to help the team.
“If we played against a 4-3-3, it could be different.
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“I have seen the Premier League since I was very young, I saw (Didier) Drogba, (Frank) Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Thierry Henry too.
“A lot of big players shining in this league. It’s a beautiful league to watch on the TV and I am very happy to be here to fight in this moment.”
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