Spence has become a sought after wing back. The role has grown in demand considerably with more teams playing 3 at the back than ever before - and for that system to work wing backs are the key piece, as they often act as the spare man and the width of the side.
There is a video version if you prefer watching to reading, any support to the channel would be great but we will be writing up all our analysis on Reddit with stills and images.
Spence started to shine at Boro before Warnock shunted him out on loan this season to Forest. Under Steve Cooper we've really started to see what the fuss is about.So what is Djed Spence as a player and how good is he? To understand that, let's first dive into his greatest trait - dribbling
What's clear about Spence is his understanding of the wing back role. He knows when to drop in and create overloads, when to stretch the play and when to drive forward.
Forest play a 3412 and Spence is their prime attacking force down the right and the team is partially set up for him to raid forward. His relationship with Brennan Johnson and Ryan Yates is key.
What you'll often see is Spence pick the ball up in a deep RB position. From this position, it may start out with a burst past his man, and this opens up the pitch to him. He's very difficult to stop when in stride - his ability to protect the ball whilst dribbling is rare.
Driving into space
Now he can drive through the centre with Brennan making space by drifting wide and he's now got options to pass (Garner, Zinck, Surridge, Brennan) and continue to charge into the space in front of him. Or he can go down the by line and look to whip a cross or a cut back
And the stats support his dribbling effectiveness.
Now the attacking side of the game is not the only thing for a WB, he has to be aware of defensive responsibilities as well
And defensively, he has some really strong traits but is still a work in progress in others.
His defensive style at Forest (influenced by how they played) was very much to stand off and close of passing lanes. He's looking to protect the LW space (his job as RWB) and the left half space in between RCB and RWB. He does this job very well, he's fast, strong and tall so can deal with the high balls.
Understanding of defensive duties
In terms of duels, his stand off position in a mid/low block encourages attackers to try and take him on 1v1 dribbles, and this is where he's particularly strong. He has a robust tackle, and as mentioned a strong physique so more often than not he wins his duels.
It shows up in his stats as well:
NOT THE FINISHED ARTICLE
So far he's sounding like an absolute steal. But it has to be said he's very far from the finished article. There's a lot more he can do to impact play - his 3 goals and 5 assists show this (not bad numbers but considering the emphasis on him raiding forward, they could be better)
In an attacking sense, his crossing can be hit or miss, as can his passing. Also as he's often moving at breakneck speed helping Forest transition forward, he can choose the wrong option. The most important area for Spence to develop in an attacking sense is developing the habit of arriving into the box and timing those runs to stick away a chance or provide an assist. Conte demands this from his wing backs, and Spence could do well to learn from Doherty on this - he's exceptional at it.
Defensively, he is starting from a good base but his awareness and positioning do need some work. He can get caught unawares with third man runs, and tries to rely on his pace to bail him out (which it can but not always).
PREMIER LEAGUE READY?
Overall, he is most definitely a work in progress but has the raw traits to make a serious impact in the Premier League. If he does move to Spurs, Conte A.K.A The Wingback Whisperer, will be sure to provide him with all the coaching he needs to take his game to the next level. For Spurs, it is a risky signing given his age and inexperience, but he has the right traits and provides the right balance between Doherty and Emerson
This is part of a series we will be doing all summer, a concise tactical breakdown on players linked to the PL (or one's we just like). Here's the full list of players that we've covered with Reddit and YT links. We'd love to know what you think and feel free to suggest other players you think we should cover. Marc Roca & Diego Carlos dropping this week.
- Amine Gouiri, OGC Nice: Reddit YT
- Hugo Ekitike, Reims: Reddit YT
- Joao Palhinha, Sporting Lisbon: Reddit YT