DeAndre Yedlin Will Not Dislodge Kyle Walker at Tottenham in 2015/16

Sam Rooke@@SamRooke89Featured ColumnistMay 23, 2015

Tottenham Hotspur's DeAndre Yedlin warms up ahead of their English Premier League soccer match between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur at St James' Park, Newcastle, England, Sunday, April 19, 2015. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)
Scott Heppell/Associated Press

DeAndre Yedlin is one of the great hopes of the U.S. men's national team. 

Yedlin burst onto the international scene with his three World Cup substitute appearances and captured the nation's attention after some brilliant individual moments. 

Linked with several large European clubs, Yedlin opted to join Tottenham Hotspur but play out the MLS season with the Seattle Sounders before eventually making the move.

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

He arrived at Tottenham earlier than expected, joining in January instead of the summer, from Seattle and has been a regular part of the matchday squad. 

However, the American full-back has played just 12 minutes of Premier League football for Tottenham. 

If Yedlin joined Spurs expecting to quickly break into the first team, he is in for a shock. He is in no position to oust Kyle Walker as the regular starter in his position. 

Mauricio Pochettino is a coach who improves players, particularly those who fit his system. 

Danny Rose has been a great beneficiary of Pochettino's coaching and his approach to football. Rose was on the verge of being sold last summer, but he impressed and has become Spurs' unquestioned starter at left-back. 

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Pochettino has shown a willingness to select players regardless of their age and experience. Eric Dier surprised many Spurs fans when he was selected to start Spurs' opening match this season against West Ham United

Dier had no Premier League experience and had played only a handful of games as a professional, but he showed Pochettino that he had what it took. 

In that regard, Yedlin could emulate Dier, Ryan Mason and Nabil Bentaleb as young players selected regularly ahead of more senior team-mates. Yet unlike those other prodigious youngsters, Yedlin is not yet good enough to start. 

Kyle Naughton was sold in January because he was not good enough. At this point, Yedlin aspires to reach Naughton's level. 

The difference is that Yedlin has great potential. 

His pace is his most obvious asset and has been remarked upon at great length. Ultimately, Yedlin possesses the outrageous pace that can help him eventually develop into a top-class player. 

His flexibility, too, is a great asset. Yedlin is a full-back first, but he is comfortable playing higher up the pitch and, as Dier has shown, that capacity to fill multiple roles helps ensure regular football. 

Yedlin's problem is that Kyle Walker, the presumptive starter, is just 24 (soon to be 25) and still improving himself. 

Despite his injury problems, Walker is a powerful and athletic full-back who can deliver a dangerous ball. He has his defensive issues, but Yedlin is in no position to challenge him yet. 

Pochettino has preferred Vlad Chiriches and Dier as emergency full-backs rather than risk Yedlin from the start, and that suggests that he has serious doubts about the American's quality at this point. 

Yedlin will not be an immediate starter for Spurs next season, but that is the perfect position for him to be in.

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

He now has a full offseason and a year of playing the understudy to England's starting right-back to learn from Pochettino and grow as a player. Without the pressure of being the regular starter, Yedlin will not have to deal with the spotlight and, instead, can develop at his own pace. 

Cynics will suggest that the acquisition of Yedlin was simply a marketing gimmick. Signing an up-and-coming American player shortly after selling Clint Dempsey could be viewed as Spurs ensuring their presence in the American market. 

That is a conspiracy theory that does not stand up to closer examination. 

Yedlin has shown a deeply flawed positional sense, an over-reliance on his pace and a troubling tendency to run with his head down, but he is undoubtedly talented.

His tackling technique is solid; his ability to blow past defenders relies as much on his impressive close-control as it does on his speed. 

DeAndre Yedlin will not displace Kyle Walker as Spurs' first-choice right-back in the coming season, but he has an opportunity to learn his craft and eventually emerge much as he did for the U.S. national team.


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