DeAndre Yedlin is still to see a minute of first-team action since arriving at Tottenham Hotspur last month, but there’s good reason to argue that, when he does, it should come in midfield.
Yedlin, 21, clinched a £2.5 million move from the Seattle Sounders in August on the back of his energetic World Cup cameos, but remained in the States for the rest of the MLS season as part of the agreement between the two sides, helping his hometown team win the US Open Cup and Supporters' Shield title in the meantime.
Having now made the full-time switch across the Atlantic, the promising right-back completed one 60-minute outing for the Under-21s during his first few weeks at the club, before being allowed to head off to join the US national team for their friendlies against Chile and Panama, in order to help get his match fitness up.
With his reputation rising to considerable heights since signing a Homegrown deal with the Sounders in 2013, Yedlin’s rapid progress suggests a bright future in the game but, with just two full professional seasons under his belt, it’s also clear how raw he remains as a footballer.
Starting out his college career as a winger with the Akron Zips before being converted into a full-back, the Seattle-native’s outstanding speed in attack is what saw him stand out in MLS, but the defensive side of his game on the other hand was often called into serious question.
Against superior Premier League opposition, the threat of his questionable positioning being exposed will be further heightened, and that was made more than clear during his showing in the USA’s 3-2 defeat in Chile last week.
Starting the match at wing-back in a 3-5-2 formation, Yedlin was moved back into defence when Jurgen Klinsmann’s side shifted to 4-4-2 in the second-half, with the home team going on to score twice due to his mental lapses.
While he did use his covering speed to make several impressive stops over the course of the 90 minutes, it was a performance which earned him criticism from fans and the media alike, and served as a stern reminder that he is far from the finished product.
That in mind, blooding him into the Tottenham senior squad in a more advanced role to begin with seems like the obvious solution at this point, until he can hone some of his lesser-developed skills under the club's coaching staff.
His undoubted attacking strengths coming off the bench for the final stages of games could no doubt help the team right now, and, with Aaron Lennon moving on loan to Everton for the rest of the season, there is a spot open for him to step into.
A chunk of his 11 international caps have in fact come in a midfield role, including his two substitute appearances at the group stages of the World Cup, and Klinsmann has even suggested in the past that it could be his long-term position.
“In that case tonight it was Timmy Chandler. I thought they combined really well and obviously the difference that DeAndre makes is speed. Every team fears that. DeAndre is absolutely an option to play for us further up.”
Despite Klinsmann's comments, it remains far too soon to force him into a permanent Gareth Bale-like transition, but it's also assuring to know that Spurs have a number of possible directions to take with Yedlin’s development.
For the moment, his future is very much at right-back but, with the difficulties in adapting to the English game, and the likes of Eric Dier and Vlad Chiriches being able to cover for Kyle Walker, starting life in the Premier League further up the pitch should be the plan.
He might not be blessed with the technical abilities that Bale had upon arriving in north London but, as someone who attracted the interest of Inter Milan, Liverpool and Roma in the summer, there are numerous reasons to be exciting about his future.