Tottenham Hotspur signed Seattle Sounders and United States right back DeAndre Yedlin last week, but he's not going to join up with the club for a while. It's entirely possible that no one sees him in a Spurs shirt for a couple of years.
To get a little more perspective on what Spurs are getting, I had a chat with Jeremiah Oshan of Sounder at Heart and Stars and Stripes FC. I expect to speak to him in this manner again in two years when Spurs sign Jordan Morris.
Kevin McCauley: For those who are mostly unfamiliar with DeAndre Yedlin, give us a quick bio with the important things about his career that I can't find on his Wikipedia page
Jeremiah Oshan: Yedlin is the first player the Sounders ever signed to a Homegrown contract, meaning he was the first player they signed from their academy. He was a player the Sounders had high hopes for ever since his early days and he showed enough promise to get the attention of Caleb Porter, who was then the head coach at the top college program in the country, Akron. Although Yedlin had bounced around between the midfield and fullback, Porter is given most of the credit for permanently moving him to right back. Porter once famously said that Yedlin could be a very good midfielder, but a world-class right back.
Kevin: So, about that right back move. A decent chunk of Sounders fans and a whole lot of American non-Sounders fans think he's a kind of crummy right back and would be an amazing winger. Do you have any thoughts on this?
JO: I have to agree with Porter. He'd be a passable winger, but the reality is that he doesn't have the technical skills to be anything better than very good in the midfield. His passing is still just OK and although his crossing has improved, it's not world class. He also hasn't shown much ability to get into the box or shoot from outside it, but that motor is something else. His ability to get up and down the sideline is unmatched in MLS He can learn to become a better defender and his skills can be refined, but his acceleration and stamina is what makes his potential so high.
Kevin: Do you think his defending has improved enough for him to be a passable Premier League right back in a couple of years? He's certainly a better defender than he was at the start of the 2013 MLS season, but he's still only about MLS league average in that department, if that.
JO: The good thing about Yedlin is he's so coachable and that he tends to rise to his level of competition. He's made a career out of exceeding expectation, which makes me very wary of saying he can't do almost anything. So, yeah, I think it's reasonable to think he could contribute in two years.
Kevin: But essentially, this is a high-risk, high reward signing for Spurs, right? Like Yedlin could be Dani Alves or he could fail to meet minimum Premier League standards?
JO: Yeah, I mean obviously if he bombs out I don't think Spurs will have any problems finding a taker, but playing him in important games will surely include some valleys. He's never played in a league near as fast as the PL and it's entirely possible he'll just get passed off the pitch. There's no question that Spurs are buying the player Yedlin could be in 2-5 years, not the player he is today. And even though he's young by MLS standards, Spurs don't need to have a lot of patience with a 23-year-old.
Kevin: So what's the best path for him post-MLS? He's going to be able to come to Europe in January, but it seems unlikely he'll be ready to contribute for Spurs right away. Will he be best served by a low-level Premier League loan? The Championship? Or something like Belgium or the Netherlands?
JO: The more I think about this, the more I think it's a waste of time to send him somewhere like Belgium or Netherlands. The best thing Spurs could probably do is find a club battling relegation in the PL and send him there. He's never really dealt with that kind of pressure and he'll get a real taste of what the speed of play is like. It would also force him outside of his comfort zone, something remaining with the Sounders won't do.
Kevin: In a year where the European Championships and World Cup aren't being played, Tottenham are probably going to start training camp pretty early in the summer, while Gold Cup is still going on. Do you think joining up with the club well into July is going to be a hinderance for him, or is he the type of player who this won't matter for?
JO: If the work permit isn't an issue, I think he's best served by joining Spurs early and skipping the Gold Cup. He needs as much time with Spurs coaches as he can get and preseason is obviously the best chance.
Kevin: But does Jurgen Klinsmann agree? And isn't that all that matters?
JO: Klinsmann is definitely going to have a big say, but being as supportive as he was of this move, you'd think he'd be on board with him joining Spurs earlier than later. that's obviously a guess, but I think he understands that Yedlin is better served getting acquainted with his new team than chasing a Gold Cup.
Kevin: If Yedlin can't get into the first team at all and ends up on The Brek Shea Plan, are USMNT fans going to be really pissed?
JO: Yeah, there's no question that most stateside fans are going to get very annoying if yedlin doesn't play. Sounders fans, you'll soon find, can be very vocal when it comes to sharing opinions, too.
Kevin McCauley: No way!
JO: I no rite.
Kevin: Most Sounders fans think Fredy Montero is lazy so I don't really care what they think about anything, to be honest
JO: On the plus side, I think you'll find that there's a significant uptick in Spurs shirt sales around here.
Kevin: I totally look forward to people who started supporting Spurs in 2012 berating people in Yedlin shirts for being bandwagon fans.
And I left it at that. Thanks to JO, and don't be that guy at the bar!