DeAndre Yedlin has found a temporary home in Wearside, and he's relieved that it's finally over. The American... right back? right midfielder? has found life at Tottenham Hotspur a little rocky since arriving at the club at the conclusion of the last MLS season, but managed to secure a good loan with last-place Sunderland in the Premier League.
In an interview with MLSsoccer.com, Yedlin expressed that he's relieved that his transfer deadline day ended with a loan where he can get playing time, and that he hopes this will be the start of his development into a contributor at Spurs.
"I'm relieved that it's over. I woke up, my agent texted and said call me as soon as you can. He said, 'I think Sunderland may be a go. We're just waiting for the confirmation from the Tottenham chairman. He confirmed it, sent documents over, and I signed and went to training.
"The biggest thing between this at this time and choosing between Tottenham and whatever teams last year was, with that [transfer] I had a little bit of a choice. This, I really have no say - I mean, I have some sort of say, but not a whole ton," Yedlin continued. "But I'm glad where I ended up, and I'm hoping I can make the most out of it."
Most American Premier League fans were hopeful that the former MLS All-Star with Seattle Sounders would make, if not an immediate impact in the Premier League, at least a positive impression as a backup to Kyle Walker, especially after the sale of Kyle Naughton. That didn't exactly go according to plan. Spurs went out and purchased highly rated right back Kieran Tripper from Burnley early in the summer transfer window, and Yedlin was left twisting in the wind with an unclear place in Spurs' roster.
It soon became apparent that Spurs viewed Yedlin as a long-term prospect, and that he might not even be a long-term right back. Manager Mauricio Pochettino experimented with Yedlin as a right sided winger in Spurs' post-season tour to Malaysia and Australia, presumably after watching Yedlin play in the Gold Cup as an impact midfield substitute for Jurgen Klinsmann.
At that point, a loan for Yedlin became the most likely scenario. Early reports suggested Norwich City as a possible destination or another recently promoted club like AFC Bournemouth. As transfer deadline day slogged on, Yedlin became linked to a number of clubs across the European continent including FC Midtjylland and Aalborg in Denmark, and clubs in Spain, Italy, Belgium, and the lower leagues in England. But nothing seemed to materialize until the last-minute deal with the Sunderland.
However, the northern English club appears to be ready-made for a player like Yedlin. The Black Cats have endured a miserable start to the Premier League season and are currently dead last in the table under manager Dick Advocaat. Notably, Sunderland was also the loan destination for another young Spurs fullback: now-starting left back Danny Rose spent a year in Wearside back in 2013 and used the experience to kick-start his then-flagging career. Spurs are hopeful that frequent minutes with a relegation-candidate club like Sunderland will do the same for Yedlin.
That said, a place in the starting lineup isn't assured for Yedlin, even at Sunderland. Yedlin may very well start his tenure with the Black Cats behind existing right back Billy Jones and will likely have to earn his playing time. And that's if Advocaat sees him as a right back. To get significant playing time as a midfielder under Advocaat's preferred 4-2-3-1 system means that he would either have to jump ahead of, or be a substitute for, Adam Johnson, a talented midfielder who has the position firmly locked down [Edit: though he is currently out after picking up an injury in the first match of the season]. That doesn't seem to bother Yedlin much, though.
"Hopefully I'll have the opportunity to get playing time, and get back in the groove of playing. I'm looking forward to it. Obviously [Sunderland] are a little bit lower on the table. And all parties that were involved felt it was a good place for me to go. Felt like it was right.
"I feel like I can relax a little bit now, knowing that when I go back, I know where I'm going."
A good loan for Yedlin is instrumental this season if he is to have a future at Tottenham Hotspur. Obviously the manager and coaches have high hopes for his development as a Spurs player or they wouldn't have signed him. If he can make an impact with a club that could be fighting for their Premier League survival, that bodes well for his chances of someday cracking the Spurs match day 18.