Tottenham Hotspur drew up plans to watch Djed Spence and Brennan Johnson playing for Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup, according to reports – and any trip will have been worthwhile.
Spence and Johnson both started for Forest in their FA Cup fourth-round win over Leicester City on Sunday. In fact, both ended up on the scoresheet in an exciting 4-1 win for the Championship side.
All across the pitch, Forest’s men showed they were capable of competing with their Premier League opponents. And some of their squad could get the opportunity to play in the top-flight next season, regardless of whether the club go up or not.
According to Football.London correspondent Alasdair Gold earlier on Sunday (per the Express), Tottenham were planning to send managing director Fabio Paratici to scout Spence and Johnson at the Leicester match.
There has been no confirmation since that Paratici did attend. But if he did, he will have taken encouragement from what he saw from his potential targets.
Right-back Spence is currently on loan at Forest from Middlesbrough. At the end of the season, his parent club will be bracing themselves for big offers.
In fact, some may have even arrived last month, when reports said Tottenham had been knocked back with attempts to sign Spence.
Tottenham could do with strengthening in the full-back positions. Summer signing Emerson Royal has not particularly impressed on the right-hand side, nor has the previous year’s arrival Matt Doherty.
In addition, midfield could be an area Tottenham try to reinforce. In Johnson’s territory, they offloaded Tanguy Ndombele and Dele Alli in January, for example.
Rodrigo Bentancur arrived as one replacement, but it is a part of the pitch that still requires replenishment – especially in the more attacking territory Johnson operates in.
It is not clear how much either deal may cost. Forest rejected an £18m bid for Johnson from Brentford in the winter, in one clue they won’t be selling on the cheap.
And Spence was said to have been valued at £15m by Boro in January. Those figures have scope to change by the time of the next transfer window, though.
Tottenham chief Paratici defended for January dealings
Work already seems to be underway for Tottenham ahead of the summer. Paratici will hope it goes more smoothly than the January window did.
Although Spurs strengthened with the additions of Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski from Juventus, they missed out on a couple of other targets.
They were overtaken in the races for Adama Traore and Luis Diaz by Barcelona and Liverpool respectively.
But Paratici does not deserve blame in that regard – at least not for Tottenham pundit John Wenham.
He told Football Insider: “It’s the way Paratici works. We saw this over the summer. He works on 10 deals at once sometimes, which is incredible.
“You see so many names inked with us. And that’s probably because Paratici has shown interest in them at some point.
“Just look at the deal for [Sofyan] Amrabat. The poor guy was all set to come and then it was over just like that.
“Then we had Bentancur and Kulusevski arrive really quickly, it was a bit chaotic.
“I don’t think it was a rush. I think it was that we had a lot of irons in the fire.
“There has been criticism of Paratici’s way of working. But I don’t think there was much that could be done to stop Adama Traore going to Barcelona or Luis Diaz going to Liverpool.”