Sunderland want to sign right back DeAndre Yedlin in a £2 million transfer deal, according to reports out of England today.
The potential move could be a big positive for both Sunderland and the American international. Finding a right back with 30 plus international caps under his belt at the age of 22 is rare. But since Yedlin possesses unique pace and crossing ability, he has developed into a core player for his national team.
Yedlin played an unexpectedly important role in Sunderland’s latest great escape, this time authored by Sam Allardyce. For his efforts, the Black Cats are looking to acquire the American permanently from Tottenham Hotspur after he spent this season at the club on loan.
The American started 23 games for the Black Cats this past season, and his game matured under Allardyce’s tutelage.
Yedlin’s main asset when he played at University of Akron under current Portland Timbers Head Coach Caleb Porter was his pace and directness. His game evolved in Seattle with the Sounders to include more accurate and timely crosses, something that is often lacking from American wide players.
But as a right back, Yedlin’s defensive work rate, instincts and positioning sense have all been rightly questioned. This past season at Sunderland, Yedlin began to learn better positioning and was able to develop an understanding of opposition player movement and tactics that he was previously lacking. Playing in pressure situations and avoiding catastrophic errors has been something historically that American defenders seek to avoid.
Many American players lack the tactical understanding necessary to play defensively at a high level. Often many American defenders instinctively mark the wrong space or are found out of position and therefore cannot stick on European club squads or merit enough playing time. Yedlin began his loan period at Sunderland similarly making repeated errors of positioning and misjudging crosses and attacking player movement.
However as the season wore on, and an injury to Billy Jones coupled with the ineligibility of Emmanuel Eboue made Yedlin the only natural right back choice for Allardyce, the game time and organizational structure put in place by the Sunderland manager grew Yedlin’s awareness.
With the exception of a single communication error that led to a Chelsea goal in Sunderland’s 36th game of the season, Yedlin was solid defensively as the Black Cats — who spent more time in the relegation zone than any other club in the Premier League this season — cobbled together nine results in the club’s last ten matches of the season (the lone loss being to Premier League champions Leicester City).
Should he return to Spurs, Yedlin’s growth would stagnate as he would find himself playing behind both Kieran Trippier and England international Kyle Walker at right back. While multiple loan stints away from Spurs benefited Harry Kane and Ryan Mason, others like Simon Dawkins who now plays in MLS for San Jose never really completely developed in his multiple loan spells away from Tottenham.
In the case of Yedlin, Sunderland has proven a good growth and development opportunity. And playing for Allardyce — one of the best English coaches at imparting discipline and organization — has made the player far tidier defensively.
American fans should hope that Spurs accept the reported £2m offer and the player is permanently transferred to Allardyce’s side.
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