Spurs outcast Spence already making Conte look silly on Rennes debut
Spurs in ‘different world’ without ‘indispensable’ Conte – assistant Stellini
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Tottenham could be left to regret their decision to allow Djed Spence to leave in January after the youngster sparkled on his debut for Rennes on Saturday. The defender had been out of favour under Antonio Conte and opted to gain first-team experience elsewhere with the French club, having signed on loan until the end of the season.
Spurs spent £40million in January to recruit Pedro Porro as Conte’s top target as the Italian looks to tighten up his backline after conceding 31 goals in 20 games. That is despite having three right-backs already available at his disposal in Spence, Emerson Royal and Matt Doherty.
Just five months after signing in a £20million deal from Middlesbrough, Spence found himself unwanted and out in the cold with Antonio Conte preferring to select Royal and Doherty, leaving him with little chance to break into the first team after just five minutes of Premier League action.
The 22-year-old decided to try his luck in Ligue 1 with Rennes, who sealed a deadline-day loan switch for the full-back. And Spence is quickly making the Italian reconsider his decision to let him go after a superb debut for the Brittany-based outfit.
Rennes welcomed Lille to Roazhon Park on Saturday evening and got off to a perfect start as Amine Gouiri put the hosts ahead after just 26 seconds. And throughout the first half, Spence grew in confidence as he went close to scoring himself.
With just five minutes on the clock, the youngster raced down the right and decided to take on his opponent, performing some swift stepovers and leaving his marker for dead. His inviting driven cross flashed across the six-yard box, but there were no red shirts on the end of the delivery.
Later in the half, Spence again showed his confidence after being given the freedom to roam forward. This time, the explosive full-back shifted the ball wide and hit a thunderous effort which crashed into the side netting.
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It all fell apart for Rennes in the second half, however, when former Manchester United midfielder Angel Gomes set up Edon Zhegrova for the equaliser on the hour-mark, with Spence caught up field after a misplaced pass from his team-mate.
Spence lasted 84 minutes before the manager made a triple change, but his plans came undone when former Premier League stars Remy Cabella and Andre Gomes won it late on for Lille to close the gap to two points. Still, Rennes fans flooded social media beaming about their new starlet after his eye-catching display.
And Spurs fans will surely be hoping that based on this performance, Spence will be given a second chance to fight for his place at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. That could well depend on whether Conte remains at the club, with the Italian’s contract set to expire in June.
But there was plenty of promise on show to suggest Conte may have been wrong to discard him so quickly, and it may prove to be the case as the rest of the season plays out.
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