Tottenham Hotspur’s desire to sign Djed Spence this month stems from the number of boxes the 21-year-old ticks for Antonio Conte’s side.
Spence has been a star this season in the Championship while on loan from Middlesbrough to Nottingham Forest, playing a key role in helping Steve Cooper’s side earn promotion to the Premier League through the play-offs. The England Under-21 defender has caught the attention of clubs not only in the English top flight, but also across Europe.
Tottenham are among the favorites to sign Spence, with Borussia Dortmund, Roma, Newcastle, Brentford and Forest all having shown keen interest in the London-born wide man. Reports that Spurs have agreed a fee with Middlesbrough are believed to be far from accurate at this stage and football.london understands developments are expected with Spence’s future early next week.
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The player was in Kosovo with the England U21 squad on Friday night, although he was rested from the matchday squad and will return to action on Monday night for their home game against Slovenia. Tottenham chief football officer Fabio Paratici has watched Spence in person this season and while there is excitement for the player to return to Forest, he is believed to be attracted to the prospect of playing League football champions, something both Spurs and Dortmund. can offer next season.
The north London club should also be able to offer him plenty of playing time next season in what will be a busy campaign on all fronts and that would be key for Spence, who does not seem keen on joining a big club alone. be lent directly elsewhere.
Tottenham need to increase their numbers of local players with players such as Dele Alli and now academy product Cameron Carter-Vickers leaving the club and Harry Winks and Joe Rodon also set to leave this summer, the latter seen as local in their Premier League team but not in their Champions League one.
Spence fits the bill on the home front and with Spurs set to listen to offers for Emerson Royal this summer, with a few La Liga sides interested in bringing the Brazilian back to Spain, he would be used in tandem with the experienced Matt Doherty . the right by Conte.
While Emerson defended well for Tottenham, particularly in the latter part of the season, Spence fits Conte’s requirements as a winger perfectly. The Italian’s system relies on his wingers being defenders at one point, but then attacking wingers. He doesn’t just expect them to shoot crosses into the box and be able to dribble, but he also wants them to be on the end of passes and crosses from their counterparts on the other side.
That’s why Conte converted Ivan Perisic into the role at Inter Milan and brought the 33-year-old Croatian to Tottenham in the summer to rival Ryan Sessegnon on the left. Sessegnon’s England U21 team-mate Spence has already shown he has the skills for the role on the right and Conte and Paratici are believed to believe the Spurs head coach can turn him into a top star.
Spence finished the season in the PFA Championship Team of the Year and a look at his stats on Whoscored shows why the 6ft-wide man ticks all the boxes for Conte.
The 21-year-old likes to go forward and he has completed more dribbles (74) than any other defender in the division during the campaign, having attempted 169 in all. He also had a remarkable 44 key passes as a defender in his 42 appearances and only registered four more assist points to debauchery these Forest players at the end of his crosses and assists.
Spence isn’t afraid to have a shot either, having taken 24 during the season, 17 of them outside the box, and Conte would be looking for him to improve on his three goals this season.
Defensively, his statistics for the season were also among the best, with 62 successful tackles from 82 attempts and despite his forward position on the flank, Spence was dribbled past just 20 times in his 42 league appearances. He made 66 interceptions, also blocking 23 crosses, 42 passes and eight shots as a defender and made 58 clearances.
It’s also worth noting that Spence has faced three Premier League sides in the FA Cup – Arsenal, Leicester and Liverpool – and he was named man of the match against the Gunners and scored in a fine performance against the Foxes. Liverpool, although a very different side from the Reds, were limited to just one goal in their 1-0 win at the City Ground.
Tottenham’s pursuit of Spence is by no means over yet, but it’s clear to see why Paratici and Conte want to bring him to N17.