DeAndre Yedlin’s ambitious January 2015 transfer to Tottenham Hotspur resulted in just a single appearance—11 minutes, in fact—for the London club. It’s tough to call the move a failure, however, considering what’s happened since that April 2015 cameo. He spent a season playing on loan at Sunderland under the searing spotlight of a Premier League relegation battle, and then on Wednesday he returned to the north of England for a transfer to Newcastle United, signing a five-year deal with the club.
It’s not Tottenham, and it’s not the Premier League, but it’s hardly small time. Newcastle is a storied club with a large, passionate fan base and a manager, Rafa Benítez, who’s coached some of soccer’s giants and won the Champions League, Club World Cup, Europa League (twice) and numerous domestic titles. The Magpies were relegated last season by two points. They have started the 2016-17 Championship campaign 2-2-0 (with two straight wins) and expect to bounce straight back up. That’s not a bad place for Yedlin, who just turned 23, to be. And he wouldn’t have had the chance without taking the initial risk at Spurs.
According to England’s Daily Mail, Newcastle is set to pay £5 million ($6.5 million) for Yedlin’s rights after beating out Sunderland, Aston Villa, Derby County and Hull City. Tottenham acquired Yedlin from the Seattle Sounders for a reported $4 million. His value increased thanks to his consistent contributions at Sunderland, where he made 25 appearances (23 starts) in 2015-16, and perhaps as a result of the international seasoning acquired as a frequent U.S. national team starter. Yedlin already has 39 caps and was a first choice during the spring World Cup qualifiers and throughout the Copa América Centenario.
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Seattle retained a small interest in future transfers above a set amount and likely will earn some money if Spurs profits on Yedlin's departure.
So far this season, Newcastle has started Dutchmen Daryl Janmaat and Vurnon Anita at right back, Yedlin’s preferred position. Janmaat is on the move, however, with Premier League club Watford signing him Wednesday for an undisclosed fee.
The prospect of regular, meaningful minutes under an experienced coach is a big reason why this transfer won’t represent a significant step down for Yedlin. He’ll be playing under pressure and doing so in an environment he enjoys.
The move from Seattle to London wasn’t easy for the then 21-year-old, who’d spent his entire life in the Pacific Northwest before heading to the University of Akron. London comes with massive expectations, a ton of distractions and it isn’t a patient or forgiving place. England’s north proved to be more Yedlin’s speed. He felt like he could focus on football and eventually earn his spot, and it showed as he became a key contributor to Sunderland’s escape.
Now he’ll hope to continue to thrive on the other end of the Tyne-Wear Derby at St. James’ Park.