The right-back position at Manchester United is one which needs to be improved. Djed Spence could be the player to help solve United’s problem in that position.
Date of Birth: 09/08/2000 (21)
Position: Right Wing-Back, Right-Back
Strong Foot: Right
Height: 1,84m (6ft)
Who is he?
Djed Spence is a dynamic right-back currently playing for Nottingham Forest on loan from Middlesbrough. Forest currently sits 3rd in the Championship and there’s a good chance they get promoted to the Premier League. One of the reasons for Forest’s success this season has been Spence’s form. He’s been an integral part of Steve Cooper’s side this season starting 43 games. While he has been very impressive in the Championship, he’s also been brilliant in the FA Cup against Premier League opposition. He was fantastic in Forest’s 1-0 win against Arsenal and followed that up by another great performance against Leicester, a game he scored in.
His performances this season have caught the eye of a few European giants. According to Sky Germany reporter Florian Plettenberg, Spence’s dream is to one day play for Manchester United as it’s the club he supports. Spence is available for a fee in the region of €15 million and has attracted interest from Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester City and Bayern Munich.
StrengthsEmbed from Getty Images
Nottingham Forest have used a back five system a lot this season so Spence has been deployed as a wing-back for the majority of the 2021/22 campaign. He has managed 3 goals and 5 assists in all competitions so far this season. His skillfulness as well as his explosive pace mean he poses a massive threat going forward. In addition to his very good attacking ability, Spence is also solid defensively his defensive know-how mirrors someone far beyond his years. Spence only gets dribbled past 0.5 times per 90 in the Championship this season. Spence is also decent aerially having won nearly 60% of his aerial duels in the Championship this season.Embed from Getty Images
Spence faced Gabriel Martinelli earlier this season when Forest played Arsenal in the FA Cup. In an interview with The Athletic, Martinelli was asked who’s the toughest opponent he’s ever faced, he said: “Actually the guy from Nottingham Forest, Djed Spence, who I played against in the FA Cup. He is very strong, good on the ball, calm and quick. I was surprised; he is a really good player.”
Spence has the ability to become one of the finest full-backs in England but he does need to improve his decision making as it does let him down at times. With that said though, just like most young players, this is likely to improve as he becomes more experienced.
Where would he fit in at United?Embed from Getty Images
According to the Athletic, Aaron Wan-Bissaka could potentially depart Manchester United this summer with his former club, Crystal Palace, interested in bringing him back to Selhurst Park. If this does happen, United would be left with Diogo Dalot as the only right-back option meaning the club would have to either sign one or promote Ethan Laird to the first team. If United did sign Spence, he’d give Dalot good competition for that right-back spot.
With that said, it’s important to remember that Manchester United do have Laird who did very well at Swansea during the first half of the season, before making the switch to Bournemouth in January where he’ll finish the season on loan. While his time at Bournemouth hasn’t been the best, he has recently started playing more games and is finding his form again. Spence is certainly a quality player with a lot of potential and is probably more ready than Laird to play Premier League football regularly. However, it could be argued that United should give Laird a chance before spending money on a new right-back especially as United will have bigger issues to address in the summer transfer window.
As he’s only 21-years-old, Spence will only continue to get better and better as he gains more experience. He would be a fantastic long-term signing for the club. Over the last 8 years, United have made a lot of big money signings that simply haven’t worked out. The transfer strategy at United has to change and Spence is exactly the sort of player the club should be looking to sign. Spence’s performances against Premier League opposition this season show that he is ready to make the step up to England’s first division.
At only €15 million, if United decide to sign him this summer, we could be looking back at this deal in 5 years time as one of the best signings in the Post-Ferguson era.
*All statistics are in the context of the time of writing