Championship side Middlesbrough are increasingly resigned to losing Djed Spence this summer as several Premier League clubs including Tottenham, West Ham and Brighton prepare to step up their interest, sources have told ESPN.
The 19-year-old has two years remaining on his contract, having only signed an extension in February. But after impressing in the Championship this season, senior figures at the club fear they are facing an uphill battle to keep the right-back in the north east.
Spurs are understood to be willing to allow back-up Kyle Walker-Peters to leave once he returns from his season-long loan at Southampton. The club are yet to make a final decision on Serge Aurier, although they tried to offload the full-back last summer only to fail to land Napoli's Elseid Hysaj as a replacement.
Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho is known to be an admirer of Spence having first heard positive reports from his son, Jose Mourinho Jr, who was at the Fulham academy with Spence prior to his departure in 2017.
Spurs have also been tracking Spence for some time, long before he made his league debut for Middlesbrough on Dec. 7 last year. He has gone on to make 20 appearances for the club to date.
"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 [Aaron Wan-Bissaka] -- they are all the same type as Djed," Warnock said last week.
"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."
Middlesbrough would ideally like to keep Spence for another season but the pull of moving to the Premier League will be difficult for the teenager to resist.