Tottenham Move for USMNT World Cup Star DeAndre Yedlin Opens Right-Back Debate

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Tottenham Move for USMNT World Cup Star DeAndre Yedlin Opens Right-Back Debate
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Seattle Sounders defender DeAndre Yedlin looks to be on his way to Tottenham Hotspur.

According to multiple reports, U.S. men's national soccer team star DeAndre Yedlin could soon be Tottenham Hotspur's fourth summer signing.

Late last week, BBC Sport reported the deal would see the highly rated right-back remain with his current club Seattle Sounders until next January.

Following Seattle's 2-0 win over Houston Dynamo on Sunday, the club's manager Sigi Schmid announced in a post-match press conference (video below, via the club's YouTube channel) that Yedlin's transfer would be "finalised and completed in the next day or two."

At the time of writing on Tuesday, nothing had been announced. The timeline for the 21-year-old's move is also unclear, with the Daily Mail's Simeon Gholam suggesting Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino "will be hoping to strengthen" the right-back position "ahead of the start of the Premier League this season."

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Signing Yedlin would be an indication from Mauricio Pochettino he thinks Spurs can do better at right-back.

Whether Yedlin joins Spurs this week or in early 2015, his arrival would mean change in a position in which Pochettino already has options in the form of Kyle Walker, Kyle Naughton and Ryan Fredericks.

On Saturday, the Argentine told the Daily Mail's Rob Draper that Walker was doubtful for the start of the Premier League season. Alluding to the pelvic problem that ended his 2013-14 campaign early, he said, "Kyle still has days when he does not have a good feeling but we believe he’ll recover soon."

Despite his ongoing injury troubles, Walker's place seems the most assured of the current right-backs.

Walker extended his contract until 2019 last October. The management has now changed twice since then, but it would be a surprise if Pochettino was the one to decide to dispense with his services.

Since originally signing from Sheffield United in 2009, Spurs have put enough time into his development, and seen enough of a return, that his status as first-choice right-back is deserved.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Kyle Walker impressed in his first season-proper at Spurs in 2011-12. He has had ups-and-downs since then, but for the most part has improved.

The 24-year-old is more focused and defensively intelligent than he was in his PFA Young Player of the Year-winning season in 2011-12. His offensive production has not been quite as satisfactory, but perhaps Pochettino will be the coach to harness his pace and solid shooting ability into something more regularly destructive.

Naughton would likely face the toughest battle for his roster spot in the event of Yedlin's arrival. Lacking the more overt attacking threat the American and Walker both possess, the 25-year-old's comparatively low-key style could count against him.

Spurs would not be short of suitors for a proven Premier League defender. With two years left on his current deal, now would be the best time to make money back on him.

Pochettino would have to be confident in Yedlin's ability to settle quickly in England, though, especially given Walker's fitness concerns.

Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Kyle Naughton is a valuable member of the Spurs squad, but could be looking for a move elsewhere if Yedlin is signed.

Naughton has proved to be dependable at right-back. His performances visibly improved with the run in the team he received on his natural right side late last season (as opposed to at left-back, where he struggled against anyone who could attack his weaker side). So much so he probably fancies his ability to claim the spot as his own, given the chance.

Whether or not that will be forthcoming now is up in the air. But with Walker a doubt and Yedlin unlikely to be deployed so soon if he signs, Saturday's season opener with West Ham United could be Naughton's opportunity to convince his manager he is worth keeping around.

Like Yedlin, Fredericks is still only 21. That youth and his versatility—he can also play in midfield—makes him a player Spurs would be less inclined to release. (His contract also expires in 2016.)

After a standout performance in his single Europa League appearance last year at right-back, Fredericks spent the rest of the season on loan with Millwall.

In terms of confidence, it appears to have done him no harm. The attacking verve and penetrative running style that stood out against Anzhi Makhachkala were particularly evident again Seattle in pre-season.

Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
Ryan Fredericks spent time on loan with Millwall last season as the 21-year-old continues his development.

Less tested defensively in a Tottenham shirt, another loan spell would probably be beneficial regardless of Yedlin's presence. The competition becomes tougher with the U.S. international's arrival, though. He will have been purposely brought in, and Fredericks will need to find a performance level better than, or at least comparable to, one of the promising young players of this past summer's World Cup.

That is not impossible, of course. But if Yedlin decides to move his home and his burgeoning career to England, he will have every intention of making a success of the switch.

That's good for Tottenham, but not necessarily for Walker, Naughton and Fredericks.

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