The 22-year-old American right-back made big improvements defensively while playing on loan at the Stadium of Light last season.
Speaking to FourFourTwo, Tottenham Hotspur defender DeAndre Yedlin has cited Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce’s training methods as the main reason why he improved so much defensively during his season-long loan spell at the Stadium of Light.
Yedlin, who officially joined Tottenham from the Seattle Sounders in January 2015 after a £2.5 million deal was agreed five months earlier, was loaned out to Sunderland last September in order to gain some Premier League experience and went on to make 25 total appearances for the club over the course of the campaign, recording three assists in the process.
The 22-year-old American right-back briefly fell out of favour with Allardyce midway through the season but managed to break back into the line-up during the run-in to start the club’s last 13 games, helping them retain their top-flight status with a string of solid defensive performances.
A predominantly attack-minded player, the US international had previously faced criticism for his lack of positional sense and awareness at the back, with some even suggesting that he could be forced to make a permanent move to midfield.
However, most now see his long-term future at full-back after witnessing him make such impressive progress over the last nine months, and the former MLS star believes he owes his transformation to the coaching he received during his time in the North East.
“I have to give a lot of credit to Big Sam, the manager,” Yedlin told FourFourTwo. “I don’t know what it was, but he made something click in my head. Maybe it’s his defensive approach to playing.
Every Thursday every defender would do strictly defensive drills, no attacking at all. And we hated it, because it’s not the most fun thing to do, but at the end of the day it helps.
“And you could see towards the end of the season, the last 11, 12 games, we became a lot stronger as a defensive unit.”
Yedlin’s immediate focus is now on helping the US make it out of Group A at the Copa America Centenario after they kicked off their campaign with a disappointing 2-0 loss to Colombia on Friday night, but he will have an important decision to make at the club level once the tournament ends.
The 35-times capped defender has so far made just one substitute appearance for Tottenham and remains unlikely to see much playing time next season with Kyle Walker and Kieran Tripper currently ahead of him in the right-back pecking order.
Recent reports have claimed that manager Mauricio Pochettino would be prepared to let him leave White Hart Lane on a permanent basis this summer, with the likes of The Mirror and Sports Illustrated suggesting that a return to Sunderland is the likeliest outcome.
Nevertheless, should he impress over the USA's remaining group games against Costa Rica and Paraguay, respectively, and potentially in the knockout stages, there could be several more potential suitors eyeing his signature.