5 Things to Expect from DeAndre Yedlin at Tottenham Hotspur
When Tottenham acquired Seattle Sounders' DeAndre Yedlin, it sparked excitement among both sets of fans. But there were also reservations on either side of the Atlantic. Would Yedlin get the necessary number of games to continue his growth? Could he develop into a genuine rival to Kyle Walker?
An examination of Yedlin's time in Seattle and his brief but exciting international career reveal several key factors that will come to define his move to Tottenham Hotspur.
A Real Source of Excitement
There are few things more exciting than a full-back pounding down the wing, taking a pass on the run and cutting open the opposition defence. That is the kind of player that Yedlin is.
As a full-back, his defensive capabilities are of vital importance, but in modern football, he must also be a key attacking player.
Mauricio Pochettino enjoys deploying his full-backs very high up the pitch and using them to provide the necessary width to his team's attack.
Yedlin is an ideal player in this system and is poised to become one of the most exciting players at Tottenham. He already plays this role in Seattle and for the USMNT.
He must become more selective in his runs, but he has the skill set to cut opposition defences to shreds. In Pochettino, he has a manager that will cultivate those skills and make him an even more exciting player.
Truly Rare Speed
Yedlin has many qualities as a footballer, but his pace is what sets him apart. According to Jordan Ritter Conn of Grantland, Yedlin ran a 4.2 second 40-yard dash. This is a measurement more common in U.S. sports, but to put it in perspective, American rugby player and YouTube sensation Carlin Isles recorded a 4.22 40, per the New York Daily News' Jaime Uribarri.
Yedlin possesses truly rare pace. If he can harness it, he will be a devastating player. His ball control is already strong, but it will need to improve. In the recent MLS All-Star game vs. Bayern Munich, he had to defend David Alaba. It was a real test for Yedlin, but he held his own and was still able to contribute in attack.
As ever, his pace allowed him to compete against some of the world's finest players and remain a factor in attack.
It's important that Seattle continue to lean on Yedlin in his remaining time with the MLS club. Yedlin is an important cog in the Sounders attack, but he was quiet in their defeat to Real Salt Lake on Saturday. A bigger role will better prepare him for the transition to the Premier League.
A Work in Progress
For all his qualities, Yedlin is a 21-year-old with just seven international caps. He is inexperienced and occasionally defensively unsound. He needs to develop in both an attacking and a defensive sense in order to be an effective Premier League player.
In moving to Tottenham, Yedlin has demonstrated his ambition. Had he moved to a smaller team, he would be a more important player and could be catered for in order to get the most out of his attacking talent.
He will not get that luxury at Spurs. He will be expected to contribute in attack and cut off opposition attacks coming down his flank. He has signed up for a very tough job.
The good news is that Spurs have only one right-back that will realistically be ahead of him in the pecking order, and with Europa League likely the venue for Spurs' European campaigns in the near future, he will have plenty of games to learn his trade. Pochettino is also an ideal coach to help him develop.
Yedlin is not yet ready to start the biggest games in the Premier League, but he is already in a position where he could contribute to Spurs.
He will have every opportunity to learn and develop. If he continues to grow and mature on the field, he'll become a genuine rival to Walker.
A Growth in Popularity
Do not mistake the signing of Yedlin as a marketing move. Spurs recently announced a partnership with a Florida youth team, they have a longstanding relationship with the San Jose Earthquakes and linked up with U.S. jersey manufacturer Under Armour in 2012.
While Yedlin's arrival does coincide with Spurs' continued push into the American market, he has been bought to play football.
He will sell a tremendous number of shirts, and hopefully, from Spurs' point of view, he will help to solidify their position as one of the most popular foreign clubs in the United States.
A Very Good Full-Back
Spurs have picked up a rough diamond for a bargain price. They've done very good business on Yedlin. His pace will ensure that he is a factor in any game he plays.
Yedlin is already a solid defender. He is not ready to take Walker's place, but he doesn't need to be. He's not even first choice for Jurgen Klinsmann's U.S. national team, so time is on his side.
He is at least as solid a defender as Walker was when he joined Spurs. He will need to take as much as he can from his remaining time in MLS and come to Spurs with momentum.
Pochettino is not afraid of dropping an incumbent if he feels that a younger player is ready to take the job. Yedlin can, with luck, make an immediate impact. But even if he doesn't, he's poised to grow as a player in England and become a well-rounded attacking full-back.