In case you missed it, earlier this week DeAndre Yedlin completed a transfer to England’s Tottenham Hotspur. After weeks of speculation that placed the Sounders right back to various clubs around the world, he finally landed in England; barring a work permit debacle, a la Juan Agudelo.
The 21 year old made his name at the World Cup over the summer in substitute appearances for the US in games against Portugal, Germany, and as a replacement for the injured Fabian Johnson against Belgium in the round of 16. Yedlin impressed many, including myself, with his pace and attacking ability on the right flank. His play in Brazil clearly showed that he was the future of the USA at right back, or even right mid. After the tournament, various rumors connected Yedlin to clubs like AS Roma in Italy, Napoli, and even Bayern Munich of Germany. However, it was Spurs who jumped ahead in the race for Yedlin’s services. Under new boss Mauricio Pochettino Tottenham visited Seattle in their preseason and played a cracking match with Seattle, in which Yedlin went 90 minutes.
So, the question is can DeAndre Yedlin make it at Spurs? Well, it all depends on when exactly he makes the move to White Hart Lane. Yedlin will stay with the Sounders for at least the rest of the 2014 season, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t stay longer. There are also potential work permit issues that the US international could face. UK work permit laws require a player to appear in 75 % of their national team’s matches over the past two years, if the player does not possess an EU passport. Yedlin has not came close to this number, meaning it could require an appeal based on “exemplary talents” being the deciding factor. Spurs could loan Yedlin out to another European club during the appeal process as well. Let’s say he does get a work permit and all goes well, then in January he joins his Spurs teammates at the Lane. So, can he play and prosper?
Tottenham have competition at the right back spot already, so it could take a breakthrough for Yedlin to earn consistent playing time. Kyle Walker has been the starting RB for the North London side over the past couple of years, but has been sidelined with injuries of late. Continuing the “Kyle” theme, Spurs also have Kyle Naughton who can play the right fullback spot. Naughton was on loan to Norwich for the 2011-2012 season, and came back to Tottenham to provide cover for the left fullback spot. However, Naughton is a right back by trade. Along with Walker and Naughton, Ryan Fredericks is also an option for the RB spot. The former Tottenham academy player made his first appearance in 2011, but has went on loan since, struggling to make his mark in the Spurs side.
All of the competition facing Yedlin have some of his qualities, pace and attacking prowess, but unlike Kyle Walker (at times) DeAndre Yedlin sometimes lacks the defending to make up for his bombardment of the right flank. He needs to learn when to push forward and when to stay back in defense. If he can find the fine line of the two, he can become a great American fullback, even rivaling the glory years of Steve Cherundolo. But if Yedlin does not develop his tools at the Lane, and fails to gain playing time, he could follow the footsteps of players like Brek Shea who have yet to come to their full potential.