Why DeAndre Yedlin isn't ready for the Tottenham first-team

Seattle Sounders right-back DeAndre Yedlin looks set to make his permanent move to Tottenham Hotspur in the coming weeks, but fans should temper their expectations on his immediate impact.

With his impressive World Cup cameos propelling him from relative unknown to potential Premier League star, much has been written about soon-to-be Tottenham Hotspur right-back DeAndre Yedlin since the summer.

His substitute outing in the USA’s 2-1 extra-time defeat to Belgium in the last-16 earning him particular praise, the Seattle Sounders defender was linked to a host of top European clubs in the weeks following, including Inter Milan, Liverpool and Roma, before Spurs swooped in to seal his £2.5 million signature on August 13.

Sent back to MLS in the meantime, both sides have since remained tight-lipped over whether Yedlin would make the permanent move across the Atlantic this winter or in the summer of 2015, until we seemed to get an answer last week from Sounders general manager Adrian Hanauer at the team’s end-of-season media conference.

However, the questions still remains as to whether Yedlin is in fact prepared for a move to Spurs at this stage, despite his undoubted promise.

Aged 21, the 10-times capped international’s reputation has risen to untold heights since signing a Homegrown contract with the Sounders at the start of 2013 but, with just two full professional seasons under his belt, there’s no hiding how raw he remains as a prospect.

Never short on confidence, Yedlin’s pace and acceleration allow him excel in the attack – not surprising given he started out his college career with the Akron Zips as a winger – but the defensive side of his game still needs a great deal of work.

Concerns about his knack for reading the game and defending one-on-one might have been somewhat overblown in the past, but the amount of times he’s been caught out of position up the pitch during the 2014 MLS season shows how much he still needs to learn.

Given his ever-growing reputation overseas, most would assume his status as the league's top right-back is unmatched, but there were several positional rivals, such as Vancouver's Steven Beitashour, New England's Andrew Farrell and Real Salt Lake's Tony Beltran, who all arguably outperformed him this past campaign.

Yedlin’s defending has in fact improved a great deal in recent months, and his performances in the post-season last month were some of the best of his short career, but those matches also exposed his proneness to waste possession when put under pressure.

That was especially clear in the Western Conference Championship against the LA Galaxy, when left-sided duo Robbie Rogers and Landon Donovan forced him into his shell during the 1-0 first-leg defeat at the StubHub Center after a few poor mistakes, before he managed to rediscover his confidence somewhat for the return fixture in Seattle.

Nevertheless, while he has often been able to thrive in MLS based on his pure speed alone, that won’t be such a straightforward task in the Premier League, where the experienced opposition will be far more inclined to exploit his weaknesses.

Ultimately, while Yedlin looks set to head over to White Hart Lane in the coming weeks for a January start, one has to wonder whether he might be better off going out on loan to the Championship once he arrives, in order to better acclimatise to the English game.

With fellow right-back Kyle Walker making his long-awaited first-team return on Thursday night after nine months out injured, there’s no longer a desperate need to throw him in at the deep end, and some time spent honing his skills in the lower divisions could do him the world of good.

There’s no doubt that Yedlin possesses the potential to develop into a future Premier League stalwart in due time, but to expect him to walk straight into the side and start producing from the get-go is unrealistic.

Then again, this is someone who went from the college level to a two-time MLS All-Star and World Cup veteran in the space of just 18 months, so who knows.

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