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The SBI View: Yedlin takes step forward, not backward, with Newcastle move


When DeAndre Yedlin made the move to Tottenham following the 2014 World Cup, everyone knew it was a calculated risk. Facing hearty competition at a club still trying to bully its way into England’s elite, Yedlin knew he may never be Tottenham quality, even if the club paid out a hefty transfer fee to acquire his services.

Two years later, Yedlin departs White Heart Lane with just a single appearance to his name, but the “calculated” part of that risk paid dividends by setting him up for success at a new home.

Newcastle United officially confirmed Yedlin as their latest signing on Wednesday, ending a transfer saga that saw Yedlin linked to everyone from Hull City to Trabzonspor. Although a step down in terms of league, Yedlin’s move should prove a step up in terms of development with an elite manager that is in full need of his services.

Rafael Benitez has won everything there is to win. The Spanish boss has claimed a Champions League crown and two Europa Leagues throughout his career, while relying on a rigid defensive structure along the way. His time at Real Madrid may have been tumultuous, but make no mistake: Benitez is a top manager, one that is as tactically prepared as any throughout the world game.

That tactical nuance should be a benefit to Yedlin, who still needs refining on the defensive end. Even the least educated of eyes can see Yedlin’s blistering speed and showstopping athleticism, but it’s the finer points of defending that prevent Yedlin from being a Premier League starter. The 23-year-old showed glimpses at this summer’s Copa America, but his reliance on his speed is a characteristic that still needs to be coached out of him. Yedlin’s ability to track back needs to be a Plan B, not a regular occurrence, if he hopes to ever beat out the Kyle Walkers of the world that kept him out of the Tottenham team.

Newcastle seems an ideal fit to provide that lesson. Following the departure of Daryl Janmaat, the club is in need of a right back. Yedlin provides Premier League experience from last year’s loan to rivals Sunderland, as well as familiarity with the pressure that comes with a legitimate battle. This year, Yedlin will push towards promotion, not against relegation, but the defender should know what to expect from the pressure-cooker that is the English league system.

The stress that will come in the next year is exactly why the move isn’t a step down. Yedlin should be playing regular minutes in matches that truly mean something throughout the entire 2016 season. Rather than constantly looking over his shoulder in a relegation fight, Yedlin joins a Newcastle team that enters as the hunters and, if all goes according to plan, Yedlin and Newcastle’s time in the Championship could be a short one. On the other side, a move to Hull City or Sunderland could have seen the opposite, as Yedlin could have easily found himself bounced to the Championship after this season. The move is a gamble on himself and his team, as the fullback’s path back to the Premier League with Newcastle may very well be more clear than Hull or Sunderland’s path towards staying.

But everything Yedlin is preparing for could not have happened without that initial move to Tottenham and all that followed. For the club, the acquisition of Yedlin was a resounding success. After just two years and very little investment, Yedlin moved on for a profit, sealing a nice bit of business for the club. They gave the fullback a shot and determined it wasn’t to be, while also making a bit of money on the side.

For Yedlin, the move earned him the title of “Premier League defender” to headline his resume. At just 23, Yedlin had eyes on him all over the world, and he parleyed those eyes into a move to one of the country’s most historic clubs. For both player and club, there’s a lot of work to be done, but the initial eye tests say that Yedlin’s move to Newcastle could be a push towards a bigger step for all involved.


  1. If you think Yedlin’s choices were binary (Spurs or Newcastle) than he made the right move. The question is whether Newcastle was the right move away from Spurs. Yedlin had other options, some in the Premier League. Would he have played full time with any of the Premier League clubs? If he would have received consistent minutes at a club like Sunderland than Newcastle wasn’t the best move.

    • You have to consider the managers in charge as well. For whatever reason, people seem to dismiss the fact that he’s playing for Rafa Benitez now. One of the most defensively astute managers in the world according to his colleagues. He will defend, or he will be dropped. He is going to defend. And THEN get forward. Rafa will help him immensely along the way.

  2. looking forward to watching Yedlin’s progression from Seattle to Stoke (via Spurs) to Newcastle. I thought he broke in as a pro as a crazy attacker, took huge strides at Stoke in terms of being a defender and now this is the perfect move to tie it all together as complete fullback.

    • You mean Sunderland…or you should anyway. 😉

      I hope you are correct in terms of huge strides as a defender. I disagree and have never been wrong before, but always a first time, right?

      • And what if he’s sitting on the bench behind Jesus Gamez as a lot of Newcastle fans think he’ll be? I would say that’s a step back…

      • “I hope you are correct in terms of huge strides as a defender.”

        if you’re saying he hasn’t improved, either you vastly overrated yedlin’s defensive play at seattle, or you didn’t watch many of his games at sunderland.

    • As a pro yedlin has only played fullback. NT is a different beast all together. The NT apps in the attack helped showcase his attacking potential to the world and thus moved him from “fast fullback” to “potentially great wingback”; at least in the eyes of European scouts.

  3. definitely not a step backwards. certainly more fitting of his overall skill level RIGHT NOW. as ryan points out, there are elements to his game which need honing so this is the right place for that to happen.

  4. I’m fine with it, but he needs to understand that Newcastle has a dumpster fire’s dumpster fire of a front office.

  5. People need to find their level. Their level is not necessarily what the people obsessed with Big Club European soccer think. Nor is it better to be nominally the property of a Big Club but actually sitting or on loan.

  6. Definitely not a step backwards. If he can start week in/week out and Newcastle wins the league, it would be great. We have right back options to take his place in the NT even if he sucks this season, and we’re not heading into a summer tourney so there isn’t pressure to perform above standards this season.

    Hopefully it’s a bigger pay day for him and he plays well.

  7. I don’t think a single person, outside I’m Always Whining About US Soccer, believes this was a step backwards.

    We understand it’s a part of his progression and that Newcastle United paying for his services displays they have a vision for his role, and that his role could likely be back within the EPL next season (assuming they gain promotion).

    • Just for the record, no one talks for me, especially not Old School.
      I don’t think it is a step backward either.

      I think we need to get to a point where England isn’t the end goal, because it is a waste of a good career for pay. Just another example.

      • Your comment is worded vaguely. Are you saying Yedlin is another example of your model that England eats up careers?

    • And what if he’s sitting on the bench behind Jesus Gamez as a lot of Newcastle fans think he’ll be? I would say that’s a step back…

      • As opposed to playing in front of competing with Brad Evans for a spot? When you present alternatives it actually becomes more clear this is a step forward.

      • I’m a fan of the US game and certainly don’t think a move to England is for everyone.- it needs careful consideration. But c’mon now… in the measure that matters the very most- Yedlin’s quality/development as a player- particularly as a defender- he has made great progress to anyone w/ a scintilla of knowledge, paying any attention. If you can’t acknowledge that, there is no point in talking.

      • It’s not either this or MLS, it’s this or EPL, maybe riding the pine maybe starting. But if he’s riding the pine, I’d prefer he do it in the EPL.

    • This is only a step forward if you compare playing to sitting the bench, or playing with the reserves at Spurs. If you compare where he was at the end of last year (playing for a PL team regularly) to now, presumably, playing for a championship side, it’s a step back.


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