Djed Spence has often cut a frustrated, lonely and isolated figure during his time at Tottenham Hotspur.
The right-back was a “swashbuckling” menace – as per Ian Wright – in the second tier last term, devastating not only Championship defences but Premier League sides too.
Indeed, the former Nottingham Forest loanee truly burst onto the scene with a scintillating display against Arsenal in the FA Cup last year, terrorising Nuno Tavares in a performance that for the wrong reasons has lasted long in the memory of Spurs’ rivals.
It was that performance that saw him attract the interest of plenty in the top-flight and last summer, he eventually settled on a move to Antonio Conte’s side as he joined for £20m from Middlesbrough.
Sadly, it has not all gone according to plan.
How has Spence fared at Spurs?
Spence has featured for just three minutes in the Premier League and has made only six appearances since moving to north London.
It is a perplexing outcome for a player blessed with so many exciting qualities. He is a rampant threat down the right-hand side and looked like the perfect type of player to thrive in Conte’s system that requires wing-backs.
The Italian clearly isn’t a fan, however, with Pedro Porro – another right-back – arriving on deadline day and Spence being ushered to Rennes on loan.
That may well have been at the wing-back’s request who understandably was eager to play more football.
How has Spence done at Rennes?
The 22-year-old is already enjoying a far more vibrant time in France where he has played 264 league minutes across three Ligue 1 outings.
He has also featured in the Europa League and despite a slow start that has seen him register no goals or assists, is displaying why he is such a talented figure.
Spence is often renowned for his red-hot form offensively and in making three dribbles per match, it’s clear he knows how to beat his man.
However, what has been so impressive about his form across the channel to date has been his defensive displays, making an impressive three tackles per match. Albeit from a small sample size to date, only nine players to start more than once have registered more per game in the entire division.
Should he continue his impressive displays then a first-team spot back in London could well be forthcoming.
After all, Ligue 1 has proven to be a stable home for young players in the Premier League over the last few years.
You only need to ask fellow defender William Saliba. Plucked from France for a fee of £27m in 2019, it took until 2022 for the centre-back to finally make his competitive debut for Arsenal.
He spent three years on loan in his home country, playing for St Etienne and Marseille, honing his trade before going on to win the league’s best young player award last term.
Saliba is now a star of the Premier League having started every single match during the club’s title charge.
That isn’t to say that Spence will be able to lead a trophy challenge of his own upon returning to Spurs but Conte already has proof that Ligue 1 is a good place for young defenders to develop.
His young wing-back is already impressing and by the summer, he could well be ready to play more regularly at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, potentially making a Saliba-esque impact across the city.