Tottenham Hotspur announced the signing of Djed Spence on a contract which will run until the summer of 2027. The wing-back seems a natural fit for an Antonio Conte side, and it’s easy to see why Tottenham have made the move.
Their options on the right side of the defence are Emerson Royal and Matt Doherty, and although both have performed for Conte at times, neither is necessarily the perfect fit for the Italian’s tactics. Much of the threat in a Conte team comes from the wide positions, particularly the wing-backs. A perfect example of this is the role that Achraf Hakimi played in Conte’s Internazionale side.
The Moroccan was a defender, at least nominally, but on the ball he operated almost as a winger. His ability to generate a threat from wide areas was key to ensuring the forward pairing of Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martínez were as deadly as they were. Of course, Hakimi is one of the best attacking right-backs in the world, and is therefore hard to replicate.
However, it’s hard to shake the feeling that, although Doherty and Emerson can’t be faulted for effort, they can be improved upon. It’s certainly the case that strengthening that area of the pitch is vital for getting the best results out of a Conte side, and would boost Tottenham’s betting exchange odds.
Doherty is a strong attacking presence, even if he doesn’t have the quality to really be a Champions League-level wing-back. However, he can be suspect when the team doesn’t have the ball, and his lack of athleticism can be exploited. Likewise, Emerson Royal is a serviceable player, but in the chances that he’s had, he’s never shown himself to be anything more than a squad player at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
With the Lilywhites hoping to strengthen that area of their team, they’ve opted for one of the most talked about youngsters in the Championship in a deal that could be worth up to £20 million. Spence had been at Middlesbrough since 2018. He played regularly for them for a couple of seasons, before spending the 2021-22 season on loan at Nottingham Forest.
With Middlesbrough using Isaiah Jones as a right wing-back — somehow amassing a wealth of promising young right wing-backs in the North East — Spence got his chance to shine in Nottingham. It was a chance he gladly took. In one month, he won the awards for EFL Championship Player of the Month, EFL Championship Goal of the Month, and EFL Young Player of the Month, before being named in the second tier’s EFL and PFA teams of the year at the end of the season.
It’s easy to see how he caught the eye. Spence is an aggressive, attacking wing-back, who looks to take the game by the scruff of the neck. His proactive style makes him the perfect fit for Conte’s side, who rely on having quality wide defenders more than most.
With Ryan Sessegnon available on the other side, as well as Sergio Reguilón, improving the right-side of the team to match the potential on the left would be a big plus from this summer. The importance of having quality, attacking wing-backs to a Conte side cannot be understated, and the Italian will be delighted to have picked up Spence for that exact reason.