Based on Djed Spence’s Serie A debut, it appears that Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou made the right decision to send the right-back out on loan for the balance of the 2023–24 season.
Since Spence joined Spurs following his outstanding 2021–2022 Championship season with Nottingham Forest while on loan from Middlesbrough, things have not been easy for him.
That year, Spence’s exceptional efforts at right-back enabled the Reds to get promoted to the Premier League.
According to fbref, the Englishman’s 4.35 progressive carries per 90 plays that season placed him in the top 1% of his positional counterparts in the division. Furthermore, Spence was in the top four percent for successful take-ons (1.89 per 90) and the top five percent for carries into the final third (2.54 per 90).
Daniel Levy’s willingness to pay a premium of up to £20 million for the full-back was prompted by his performance (Sky Sports News, July 19, 2022).
Even so, it was evident that former Tottenham manager Antonio Conte did not think highly of Spence, as he only saw three minutes of Premier League action in four substitute appearances during the first half of the 2022–2023 season. Spence then spent the second half of the season on loan with Ligue 1 team Rennes.
Prior to the 2023–24 season commencing, Postecoglou arrived at Hotspur Way, and rumors circulated that Spence would be a better fit for the Australian than his Italian predecessor.
Postecoglou obviously wasn’t a fan of the player, though, as he was only played once as a substitute during the preseason before being shipped out on loan to Leeds United in the Championship.
The 58-year-old again determined that Spence was surplus to requirements after his loan with the Whites was shortened, and he was moved to Genoa for his third loan spell at Spurs in 1.5 years (Tottenham Hotspur Official Website, 11 January).
Perhaps this is the 23-year-old’s last chance to redeem himself at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and prove to those back in North London what he is capable of. But he didn’t get off to the best start in accomplishing that aim.
In Genoa’s 2-1 victory over Salernitana on January 21, Spence was included in the starting lineup and played the entire ninety minutes as a left wing-back.
He did assist the Italian team in ending a three-match losing streak, but his individual effort was unremarkable. He played two accurate long balls forward, completed 83% of his passes (none of which were crucial), failed to complete any dribbles, and did not register any shots on goal, according to Sofascore.
He made one tackle, one interception, one clearance, and one block in addition to losing both of his aerial duels. He only prevailed in one of his three ground duels.
It was nothing that will make Postecoglou second-guess his choice to send the player out on loan, even though it wasn’t a terrible debut.
With Pedro Porro and Emerson Royal as his two alternatives at full-back with Spence struggling to provide an offensive presence in his Genoa debut, Postecoglou will feel secure in his full-back lineup for the remainder of the season. The former Celtic manager demands his full-backs to have an attacking presence.