DeAndre Yedlin's Gold Cup campaign makes it clear what Tottenham must do with him

DeAndre Yedlin Jermaine Jones

Indifferent showings for the US national team in recent weeks have further proved that a loan move would be the best option for the versatile defender this season.

A great deal of fanfare has surrounded DeAndre Yedlin’s Tottenham Hotspur future ever since his signing from the Seattle Sounders was confirmed last August, and for good reason.

The 22-year-old right-back is blessed with a tantalising set of physical skills which the wider footballing world first became aware of at the 2014 World Cup, when he produced an energetic performance off the bench in the US national team’s 2-1 last 16 defeat to Belgium.

His promising showings in Brazil saw him linked with the likes of Liverpool and Roma in the weeks following the tournament [h/t Guardian] but it was Tottenham in the end who managed to win the race to the two-time MLS All-Star’s £2.5 million signature.

Remaining with the Sounders for the rest of the 2014 MLS season as part of the agreement between the two clubs, the homegrown defender went on to help his local team win their fourth US Open Cup and first Supporters’ Shield title before heading across the Atlantic, where some even anticipated him making an immediate impact.

That proved far from the case, however, as the winter arrival made just a 12-minute cameo for Mauricio Pochettino’s side over the second half of the season, while also falling out of Jurgen Klinsmann’s first-choice XI due to his lack of club action.

With the highly-rated Kieran Trippier since joining from Burnley to compete with incumbent Kyle Walker for the starting right-back spot, Yedlin now finds himself facing questions over where his immediate future lies.

A loan move has recently been mooted, with Bolton Wanderers, Derby County and Norwich City all named as potential suitors [h/t Daily Mail] but the 22-times capped American stressed last month that he was looking to use his Gold Cup summer to push himself into Pochettino’s plans for the coming campaign.

"That's the plan, hopefully, to be in top fitness when I join Spurs," he told MLSSoccer.com. "And be flying into next season.

“The [Tottenham] coaches have been patient with me. I've taken my time because it's a big transition. A lot more goes into it than people realize."

Nevertheless, despite putting in a couple of commendable substitute outings in the shock comeback friendly wins over the Netherlands and world champions Germany last month, things have not gone quite to plan since.

While Yedlin managed to earn midfield starts in the warmup win over Guatemala and Gold Cup opener against Honduras, his disappointing performances saw him dropped to the bench for the rest of the tournament, as Klinsmann’s men would be dumped out at the semi-final stage after a 2-1 upset defeat to Jamaica.

Cameos in the last three matches saw him flash definite glimpses of potential but also his clear defensive decencies, wastefulness in possession and questionable crossing skills – issues which have been well-documented in the past.

In MLS, where he racked up 62 appearances and one goal over two seasons, the Seattle-native could simply rely on his blazing speed and all-round athleticism to get by but, when it comes to life in the Premier League, things will not be quite so straightforward.

There’s little doubt that the likes of Raheem Sterling and Alexis Sanchez would relish the chance to exploit his poor positioning and, while he has made noticeable steps forward on the defensive side of his game since joining Spurs, his recent US performance have served as a stern reminder of how much work he still has to do.

One option proposed to help ease his transition to the English top-flight has been for Pocchettino to use the versatile speedster in midfield, where he has made most of his international appearances of late.

While he spent the duration of his Seattle spell at right-back, the promising defender began his college career at Akron as a winger and, having used his pace and acceleration to thrive as a late-game weapon for the States in the past, he could fill a similar role for Spurs moving forward.

Yedlin himself would also be more than comfortable making the switch to midfield with his club side, telling SBISoccer.com earlier this month: “I’m pretty comfortable. There’s a lot I need to work on in that position, and I know that, but for the most part, I’m pretty comfortable.”

With his attacking qualities, an advanced role would be a possible alternative to a loan move this season but, at the same time, it is more than clear that Yedlin needs first-team football if he is to stand a chance of making the grade at White Hart Lane in the long run.

He might well see some action in cup and European games if he remains in North London for the 2015-16 campaign but, as the likes of Tom Carroll and Alex Pritchard have shown, there is a lot to be gained from spending some time out elsewhere.

A season-long switch to the Championship could be just what he needs to help hone his skills for a future first-team breakthrough, with reported suitors like Derby and Bolton standing out as ideal destinations.

As someone who progressed from the college level to a World Cup veteran in the space of just 18 months, there is every reason to believe that Yedlin has a bright future ahead of him but, with the growing competition for places in Pochettino’s side, it remains to be seen whether it will be with Tottenham.

His first full season in England will be crucial towards determining whether he features in the Argentine’s long-term plans and the best way to convince him of his worth could be with regular minutes in the second tier.

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