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Tottenham loanee Clement Lenglet on why he decided against joining Spurs last summer, his future and his World Cup hopes

CLEMENT LENGLET apologized for his English before answering questions – and then spoke our jargon almost flawlessly.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, given how much better continental Europeans are at language learning than us hopeless Brits.

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Clement Lenglet left Barcelona for Tottenham on loan in JulyPhoto credit: Getty

But also because a move to those shores – and Tottenham in particular – has been on the cards for the Frenchman for over a year, so he might have had time to cram.

Chatting to just 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 decided against it.

With playing time cut at Barcelona last season, the lovely centre-back reconsidered last month and completed a season-long loan to Antonio Conte’s side.

Lenglet, 27, revealed: “Last year wasn’t the right moment (to come to Tottenham).

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“I played a lot with Barcelona the year before (2020-21 season) and I was full of energy to play for Barcelona.

“Last year I played less, so this summer it was a good opportunity for me.

“I spoke to Fabio (Paratici, Tottenham’s chief football officer), the manager and my team-mates to make the decision. That was very clear to me.”

Conte was keen to sign a new left centre-back earlier in the summer, with Inter Milan’s Alessandro Bastoni and RB Leipzig’s Josko Gvardiol the key – albeit expensive – targets.

In the end, they agreed on a loan for Lenglet, effectively deferring the opportunity to spend big for a year in that position.

But that doesn’t mean that if the France international is a hit this season, Spurs couldn’t look to sign him permanently.

Although the lack of an option or obligation to buy in the loan terms means a deal would need to be negotiated.

When asked what would happen to him if he thrived in this tenure, Lenglet replied, “I don’t know.

“Right now I have to play, I have to be good. I hope that happens and if it does, we’ll talk more about that later. But at the moment I have to work to be a good player.”

When asked if the club had told him that, he replied: “I don’t know. We haven’t spoken like that before.”

Lenglet spoke to close pal Hugo Lloris before joining Spurs after playing for France with the club captain and goalkeeper.

Although Lenglet’s last appearance for Les Bleus was in November.

While he completely missed the last squad after falling out of favor at Barca.

With the World Cup looming, the defender admitted the chance of an international recall was a key factor in his move to the Premier League.

He added: “The World Cup is important to me. I missed the last selection.

“I wasn’t on the team. If you are a soccer player, you want to play these types of competitions. I’m here to play, to help the team play well and get better.

“I hope it will be a dream for me if I have the opportunity to be part of the selection. That’s what I work for.”

Lenglet could make his competitive Spurs debut at home against Southampton today (SAT).

He will be battling for a spot with Ben Davies, who is fit again after an ankle injury last season.

That left touchline of a back three is the Frenchman’s most likely route to a first-team spot, with Eric Dier and Cristian Romero firmly in the starting XI in Conte’s side.

Lenglet showed an offensive side of his game with a confused run and a spot-on second-half cross in Saturday’s 1-0 defeat by Roma in Haifa.

And the newcomer, who can also play in the middle of a three, is delighted to be following in the footsteps of compatriots like Thierry Henry and gracing England’s top flight.

Speaking about his tactical role, Lenglet said: “It depends on the game.

“Against Roma I think we needed that from my position high up on the pitch to attack space. I tried to help the team with my run and cross. We didn’t score but I tried to help the team.

“If we were playing against a 4-3-3 it could be different.

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“I’ve watched the Premier League since I was very young, I’ve watched (Didier) Drogba, (Frank) Lampard, Steven Gerrard and also Thierry Henry.

“A lot of great players shine in this league. It’s a beautiful league to watch on TV and I’m really excited to be here to fight at this moment.”

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