Carlo Ancelotti is putting Jonjoe Kenny’s Everton future in doubt with a rumoured pursuit of Middlesbrough’s in-demand defender Djed Spence.
What’s the word?
According to TEAMtalk, Boro are facing an increasing battle to retain Spence’s services beyond the January market, with the attacking right-back’s form under Neil Warnock said to have impressed an array of Premier League sides.
Warnock has called on the former Fulham trainee – who departed Craven Cottage for the Riverside in 2018 – to start six of his nine Championship appearances this season, in which the 20-year-old has struck one goal and provided an average 0.4 accurate crosses a game.
Former Middlesbrough boss Jonathan Woodgate awarded the London-born defender his first-team breakthrough mid-way through last season, making his second-tier debut in a 1-0 win over Charlton Athletic and ending the campaign as the North East outfit’s prefered option.
Spence’s progress since Warnock’s appointment earlier in the year has seen Everton, along with Crystal Palace, Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers begin carrying out regular checks on his development ahead of a potential England Under 21s call-up.
Warnock is often full of praise for the £1.8m-rated talent, claiming in July that he considers Spence to be of the same type as Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold and Manchester United’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
“If you look at one or two of the full-backs that are around now – the lad at Liverpool, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and the lad at Manchester United from Palace – they are all the same type as Djed,” he said, via quotes by The Northern Echo.
“He does have enormous ability, and when you’ve got ability like that it’s criminal if you don’t get to the very top. But as I said to him in that first couple of weeks, he’ll only have himself to blame if he doesn’t get to the very top.
“He has quite a few things to brush up on at the minute, and I’m sure he will try. He’s a very good trainer and works hard.”
With Spence’s stock increasingly on the rise and Middlesbrough seemingly becoming progressively more accepting of a January transfer, it remains to be seen if Everton step in to win the emerging race.
Kenny’s future in doubt
Ancelotti has previously stated that he has a lot of confidence in the former England U21 international, but moving for Spence would go against those claims as the 23-year-old would find himself with greater competition for the role of eventually succeeding Coleman.
Kenny, 23, has long been seen as the one to take over the right-back spot at Goodison Park once the Blues captain hangs up his boots, with Sam Allardyce noting in 2017 that the Liverpool-born ace belongs in the Premier League.
“He’s been a huge bonus for filling in that position,” said Allardyce, via quotes by the Liverpool Echo. “He proved that before I came, and he’s proven that to me in my short time because he doesn’t look out of place.”
Spence, meanwhile, has shown his attacking nature in the Championship this season with a heavy number of his 36.2 touches per game coming in the opponent’s half, where he plays 9.2 of his 12.1 accurate passes, while winning 3.4 total duels, recording 1.1 tackles and offering 0.4 key balls plus 0.3 shots, per SofaScore.
Kenny managed to register 61 touches against Newcastle before being replaced in the 76th-minute, but could only deliver one accurate cross from six attempts, lost possession 13 times, made two tackles and one clearance while recording most of his time in Toon territory.
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