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Nottingham Forest’s promotion complicates Spurs move for Djed Spence

What might have been a straightforward transfer is harder now that Forest is in the Premier League.

Huddersfield Town v Nottingham Forest - Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur have been linked with a transfer for right wingback Djed Spence for what feels like ages. The 21-year old has been a transfer target since before the start of the new year, a young athlete with a high ceiling who Spurs see as a player who could develop into a top level Premier League player.

However, there’s a problem. Middlesbrough, Spence’s home club, loaned him to fellow Championship side Nottingham Forest, and Forest just got themselves promoted to the Premier League via the Championship playoff. Now, Forest are exceptionally keen on keeping Spence for their first Premier League campaign since 1999.

I’ll be honest and say that I’m not fully understanding why Spurs are so keen on Spence — I watched the Championship playoff final between Forest and Huddersfield, and while Djed has potential, he didn’t show a whole lot that convinced me he could make the leap to top level Premier League football next season. There’s an argument that if Spurs were to sign him then he could be loaned straight back out to a lower level Premier League club (maybe Forest?) for a year of top level experience and that this is Spurs taking the long view.

But Spence obviously enjoyed his year at Forest and seems keen to stay. This could complicate a potential Tottenham move as it effectively forces a bidding war. I have no doubt Spurs could blow Forest out of the water should they want to, but it comes back to whether it’s worth it to pay (or overpay) a significant sum for a player who might not be a first choice RWB next season. Middlesbrough, obviously, would be delighted for Forest and Spurs to fight over Spence.

I don’t know. Maybe there’s something in Spence that I’m not seeing, perhaps Spurs see him as one of those low risk high reward young players to target, or maybe Conte just wants him. If it’s the latter, I’ll gladly shut up about this transfer; Conte has earned the right to make whatever transfer decisions he thinks are necessary and knows way more about football than I ever will.

But there are plenty of decent options at that position out there, and there could come a point where a bidding war pushes the price for Spence past what Spurs are reasonably able to pay. We’ll have to see what happens next, but what looked like a straightforward grab from a Championship club may have just gotten a lot more complicated.