The video revealing the Sixth Spence had been released, and the excitement among Tottenham fans was palpable.
Djed Spence, the club’s sixth signing of the summer, could be presented and on July 19 – a detail that almost demands an exclamation mark, given how the chairman, Daniel Levy, has previously liked to operate.
The real reception would come later that night, when Antonio Conte’s thoughts on the transfer were published on various newspaper websites.
“Spence is a club investment,” the manager explained. “It was requested by the club. ‘OK,’ I said. This player is young, but he has already demonstrated that he has the potential to become a valuable member of our team.’ The club decided to purchase him.”
Conte had given the quotes to reporters during the club’s tour of South Korea a few days earlier, but they had been withheld until the announcement – just in case there was a last-minute hiccup, which no one expected. The context should also be mentioned.
Conte was asked a general question about the club’s incoming business, and he “offered up” the Spence line, to use journalistic jargon.
Conte always considers his messaging carefully in media interviews, and it is common to hear him return to his central theme for emphasis. “I repeat,” he says before pounding on the table.
The point is that this was not a slip from him in the heat of Seoul; it was a dropping of the mask.
Conte wanted to make a few things clear, all of which were entirely consistent with his outlook.
Spence appears to be an ideal fit for Conte’s 3-4-3 system’s right wing-back position. He is physically imposing at 6ft and a powerful runner. He moves quickly.
He enjoys driving forward with the ball. But there is something he cannot call himself yet, and this, according to Conte, is a fundamental gap. Spence is inexperienced.
The 21-year-old was named to the EFL and PFA Championship teams of the year after performing admirably for Nottingham Forest during their promotion to the Premier League last season, where he was on loan from Middlesbrough.
On the other hand, he has never played in the Premier League and has only three England caps at under-21 level.
Conte isn’t big on potential. He gives the impression that he isn’t concerned with developing young players because he is too focused on winning the league title.
He prefers battle-tested internationals to assist him right away, such as Ivan Perisic, a 33-year-old Croat who has joined to play left wing. Or Richarlison, a 25-year-old Brazilian international with Premier League experience from Everton.