Arsenal Transfer News: Arteta looks to Championship for reinforcements
Photo by Mick Walker - CameraSport via Getty Images

Arsenal are looking to bolster their ranks in defence, with Championship starlet Djed Spence being the number one target for the Gunners.

Following on from a summer based around signing younger players to build for the future, manager Mikel Arteta's plans for January don't seem to differ too much.

The 21-year-old, on loan at Nottingham Forest from Middlesborough turned heads in the 1-0 victory over Arsenal earlier this year, notching an impressive rating of 7.7 on Sofascore.

If any deal were to occur this transfer window however, it would see Spence seeing the season out at The City Ground, with FA rules dictating that a player cannot play for more than two teams a season. As Spence made appearances for Boro in August, he would be ineligible to play for Arsenal until next season

Competition from rivals?

However, it's not just Arteta who has his eye on the youngster.

Across North London, Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte has identified the defender as a target, having pinpointed the right side of his defence as a place to improve.

With parent club Middlesborough reportedly looking to demand £12Million for the full-back, he'll be a more affordable option for both clubs.

Spence is also attracting international attention. According to The Mirror, Italian powerhouses Inter Milan and Jose Mourinho's Roma side have apparent interest, following Spence's form of late.

(Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Fitting into the system

Judging from the great success that Arteta has found in the new defensive style, Spence looks as if he'd fit well in this system, looking solid at the back as well as offering something going forwards if needs be.

Spence records similar stats to Nuno Tavares going forwards, notching up 1.9 successful dribbles and 0.8 chances per 90 minutes, but is similar to Takehiro Tomiyasu in defence, with a 72.7% tackle success rate and 1.6 interceptions per 90 minutes.

He's been a key part of the Forest revival this season as the team rose up from the relegation stages to sniffing around the lower playoff places after a poor start to the season.

What would his arrival spell for current Gunners defenders?

While it can easily be said that Japanese international Tomiyasu has near 100% job security at the Emirates, that can't be said for his teammates.

With Calum Chambers' and Hector Bellerin's contracts both expiring at the end of the season, the arrival of Spence would surely spell the end for both of their Arsenal careers.

Cedric Soares, who featured in the defeat to Forest, could also be on his way out of the club, with talkSPORT reporting Atletico Madrid interest.

However, with Cedric's contract not expiring until 2024, it would seem bizarre if Arteta made the decision to purge the club of depth at full-back, especially if European football makes its long awaited return to Arsenal.

Djed's journey 

Spence began his career in London, joining the academy at Fulham under the tutelage of Huw Jennings.

However, Middlesborough snapped him up from The Cottagers when he was 18-years-old initially for their U-23 team, but made his debut in the Carabao Cup just weeks later.

However, it wasn't until December 2019 when he made his league debut against Charlton Athletic, and scored his first goal on Boxing Day against Huddersfield Town.

In January 2020, he was awarded the Championship Young Player of the Month award, and went on to be a stalwart in the Boro defence until the end of the 2020/21 season.

In September 2021, Forest announced his season-long loan signing as part as a summer revamp.