Middlesbrough may have to offload one or two players to fund a big summer in the transfer market.
While a number of players are set to be out of contract, reports have suggested that other players could be sold on to raise valuable funds for Neil Warnock’s spending spree.
One of those players is Djed Spence.
The young full-back has been linked with a summer move to Scottish champions Rangers at Steven Gerrard looks to improve his squad with the future in mind.
While the 20-year-old is undoubtedly a talent, there are certainly some considerations for Gerrard to make before weighing up a potential move.
Djed Spence burst onto the scene under Jonathan Woodgate during the 2019-20 season and looked every inch a player who could go on to play at the highest level.
After making 24 appearances during the second half of the season, many expected Spence to really kick on this term and cement his place as the club’s first choice right-back.
Unfortunately for him, that hasn’t happened.
Spence has made 38 appearances this term, but with just 22 of those coming in the starting line-up is shows that the player hasn’t been wholeheartedly trusted by Neil Warnock.
The manager discussed Spence’s potential back in November and attracted headlines when he said: “There are not many players where you can say it’s all up to them personally how far they go – it’s what’s between the ears.
“He could be playing at a top club in England or in non-league in five years, I don’t know.”
8 of these 20 players never scored a goal for Middlesbrough – Can you identify them?
Djed Spence certainly has some excellent attributes – his pace, direct style and energy down the flank ensure that he has the makings of a really effective wing-back in the future.
However the 20-year-old has been caught out several times this term with his defensive positioning and concentration leading to Middlesbrough conceding some sloppy goals along the way.
Some might say that he’s better-suited to a more advanced role on the wing, but we’re yet to really see any true quality in terms of his dribbling or final ball.
Of course this might sound harsh when discussing a 20-year-old, but combined with Warnock’s comments it certainly suggests that there’s plenty of work for the player to do before he’s ready to play at the highest level.
Having seen a lot of Spence I’m skeptical about whether he’s ready to play for a club like Rangers – a team who will demand 9/10 displays most weeks as they look to retain the Scottish title and challenge for every trophy going.
James Tavernier has that right-back spot nailed down at the moment, so perhaps a move for Spence could be a good idea with the plan that they’ll develop him over the next two or three years before unleashing him in the first team.
But the last thing that Steven Gerrard wants is to splash out on a player who is probably not yet ready to slot into his starting XI at Ibrox – particularly with so much currently at stake.