U.S. national teamer DeAndre Yedlin is a Newcastle United player.
After two years at Tottenham Hotspur, one of which he spent on loan at Sunderland and another half of which he lingered at his old club, the Seattle Sounders, the London club sold him at a tidy profit.
Yedlin, now 23, improved immensely in the Premier League, but he was raw upon his arrival and never quite did enough to merit a shot at pushing through the right backs depth chart at Spurs. Because English national teamer Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier blocked his path to the first team.
At Sunderland, however, he had a strong second half to the 2015-16 season, establishing himself as the starter as the Black Cats managed to fight off relegation yet again.
And so now Yedlin becomes a Championship player anyway. But he does so with a big club that is newly relegated and a favorite to bounce right back up. And he will come under the tutelage of a manager in Rafa Benitez who favors attacking fullbacks like Yedlin.
With Darryl Janmaat returning to the Premier League with Watford imminently, a slot had opened up on the right. There, Yedlin will likely compete for playing time with another new recruit, 31-year-old Spaniard Jesus Gamez – a battle he should be capable of winning.
“In DeAndre we have a player who knows English football well. He has good experience, an attacking mentality, ability and great pace,” said Benitez in a press release. “I think he can do really well for us and will give us good competition on the right.”
Yedlin, for his part, seems happy with the move, even though it represents a step down in leagues. “Newcastle is such a big and historic club, and I’m excited to have the honor of playing for them. Hopefully I can do great things here,” he said. “I’m excited to learn under Rafa Benitez as well. He has an amazing résumé and I know he will help improve me a lot. I can’t wait to get started.”
The Seattle native, who has established himself as the undisputed right back for the USA under Jurgen Klinsmann and already has 39 caps to his name, is right to be bullish on his move. Because his chances of playing regularly are high. His transfer fee doesn’t represent a massive outlay, even for a Championship club, but it is big enough that he probably won’t be considered a long-term investment either – like he perhaps was at Tottenham.
This is good news both for him and his national team. Tim Ream has demonstrated with Bolton that you can mature and stay in the national team picture down in the Championship. And Yedlin will remain squarely within view of the scouts at bigger clubs if he gets to a point where he’s ready to take the step back up. That’s if Newcastle isn’t promoted right back up this season or the next and retains Yedlin as its starting right back – presuming he makes the job his own this year.
Yedlin is taking a step back, but likely allowing himself to then take two forward.