While the likes of Eric Dier, Hugo Lloris and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg remain on the books at Tottenham Hotspur, it proved to be a largely effective summer clearout for manager Ange Postecoglou, with as many as nine first-team assets moving on either permanently or on loan.
Aside from the sale of club record goalscorer, Harry Kane, the remaining departures appeared to be those who had fallen down the pecking order at N17 in recent times, with Sergio Reguilon, for instance, joining Manchester United after having spent last season on loan at Atletico Madrid.
While many of those exits were also figures who had been at the club over an extended period of time – including academy graduates Harry Winks and Japhet Tanganga – in the case of Joe Rodon, the Wales international had only been signed three years ago, although has made just 24 appearances in that time.
The 25-year-old opted to make the move to Championship side Leeds United on a temporary basis, having subsequently been joined at Elland Road by Spurs colleague, Djed Spence, with the promising Englishman seeking a swift escape route from north London following a dismal debut campaign last time out.
Having been signed from Middlesbrough just last summer, big things were expected of the attacking full-back at the time, although any early excitement has quickly been shelved due to the wideman’s lack of impact since then.
Why did Tottenham sign Djed Spence?
It is a reasonable question to ask considering the 23-year-old’s limited involvement over the past 12 months, yet the defender had certainly warranted the interest from those at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after his prior standout performances in the second tier.
Despite falling out of favour under Neil Warnock at ‘Boro, the London-born starlet was snapped up by fellow Championship side Nottingham Forest for the 2021/22 campaign, proving an instrumental part of the Tricky Trees’ successful promotion charge.
As part of a side that included recent Spurs signing, Brennan Johnson, Spence scored twice and registered four assists from his 42 league appearances that season, having operated in an attacking, wing-back role down the right flank.
The 6 foot dynamo was also particularly impressive as Steve Cooper’s side reached the quarter-finals of the FA Cup – scoring in the 4-1 win over Leicester City – with pundit Ian Wright having been full of praise for the exciting revelation following the shock victory over Arsenal:
“But I have not seen a combative, technical, swashbuckling performance like that for a very long time. I said to him afterwards, ‘whatever’s happening, whatever you’re doing, the level you’ve just shown us here is the level you have to be consistently hitting, Djed’.”
While a return to the City Ground on a permanent basis was mooted that summer, it was Daniel Levy who ultimately managed to strike a deal to snap up the one-time Fulham youth ace.
How much did Tottenham pay for Djed Spence?
The talk prior to the youngster’s move to N17 was that England – and Spurs – had potentially found a natural heir to Kyle Walker at right-back, with respected analyst EBL notably writing on Twitter at the time:
“Djed Spence is special. He’s a ridiculous athlete who could be used like Kyle Walker in defensive transition or as a powerful runner from deep. Only question is his dedication to the sport after his run in with Neil Warnock. If that’s in check, he’ll be an elite right back.”
That comparison was also made by fans of the Lilywhites, with the Tottenham faithful hoping to have stumbled across a dream successor to Walker, who had left for Manchester City on a £50m deal back in 2017.
To be likened to arguably the “greatest ever English right-back” – as per pundit Micah Richards – is no small feat, although Spence was the recipient of other stellar praise at the time of the move, with talkSPORT’s Trevor Sinclair describing him as the “real deal” and someone who could cause a “huge problem” for other teams.
With that in mind, it looked as if Levy had landed something of a bargain as the player’s £20m move was confirmed, although those comparisons to the experienced Walker now look rather foolish such have been Spence’s woes of late.
What has gone wrong for Djed Spence at Tottenham?
It is fair to say that the former Forest loanee has not had the best of times in the capital, with the 23-year-old already on his second loan spell away from Spurs, after signing for Ligue 1 side Rennes back in January.
Prior to that mid-season escape, the 2022 signing had hardly had a look in under Antonio Conte, despite appearing well-suited as a wing-back option in the Italian’s preferred 3-4-3 formation.
Djed Spence stats 2021/22 (Championship)
6 big chances created
1.5 interceptions per game
1.4 tackles per game
As Conte himself admitted, however, Spence had been more of a “club” signing rather than his own personal choice, with that playing its part in seeing the former England U21 international make just a handful of late substitute appearances in the top flight in the first half of last term.
That lack of action led Paul Robinson to suggest that the forgotten man was heading for “a downward spiral” with a January exit needed, although that temporary departure to France hardly altered his fortunes, as he has since been overlooked after returning to his parent club over the summer.
How has Djed Spence performed this season?
A change in the dugout has not brought with it a change of situation for Spence as he was deemed surplus to requirements by new boss Postecoglou, hence the full-back sealing his return to the Championship in order to join Daniel Farke’s men.
Having joined late in the window, the £25k-per-week asset has made just a solitary, nine-minute appearance for the Whites thus far, albeit while having been branded “terrific” by journalist Graham Smyth for his impact in that short cameo.
That could well be a sign of things to come with regard to his time in Yorkshire, with that move potentially set to be just what the Spurs man is in need of to help get his career back on track.
Whether his future can lie back in north London in the long-term remains to be seen, however, with Spence having thus far not been the Walker-esque figure that was expected.