DeAndre Yedlin is officially a Newcastle United player. The American right back completed his transfer from Tottenham Hotspur to the Magpies, ending a two-year stint at White Hart Lane, where he spent almost all of it out on loan.
It's no surprise that Yedlin left Spurs. It has looked inevitable all summer. The 23-year-old never broke through at Tottenham, spending 1 1/2 of his two years there on loan and when he joined the team for preseason this summer, he never even got a chance at right back in friendlies. Nobody expected him to surpass Kyle Walker and become the team's starter, but taking the backup spot from Kieren Trippier appeared reasonable. Only that never happened, and recent weeks have been filled with reports of clubs interested in him.
So with it clear that Yedlin didn't have much of a future at Spurs he had to look elsewhere. He picked Newcastle (or Newcastle chose him, your choice), but is it a good move for him? Maybe …
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It's a cop out to say maybe, but it really is a maybe because there's what it means for him this season and then what it means for him going forward. Let's break it down into those two parts.
Yedlin made a great move for 2016/17. Newcastle are in the Championship so he's taking a step down after a good loan spell at Sunderland a year ago, but the level of play in the English second division is plenty good enough. The priority for Yedlin is playing and playing regularly. He should do that with the Magpies.
Newcastle wrapped a deal to send Daryl Janmaat to Watford, putting the Dutchman in the Premier League again and opening up the right back spot, which Yedlin should slot into immediately. Rafa Benitez, for all the jokes we can and do make about him, won't have much of an issue with Yedlin's sometimes shaky defending and will be happy to get the American's pace and attacking threat into the team.
Yedlin will walk into a team that needs him, will play him regularly, are playing for high stakes in the Championship as they seek promotion and will have big crowds at St. James Park. It's a pretty great place for him to be at 23 years old. That's especially true if you believe the multiple reports that Sunderland — no longer managed by Sam Allardyce — and other Premier League teams lost interest in him and the clubs who wanted him most were Newcastle and Aston Villa. There wasn't a top division place for him.
After this season
While Yedlin will be fine in the Championship this season, it's hardly his long-term goal. He wants back in the Premier League, a place he showed he was good enough for a year ago. With a bit more growth, there's no reason he can't get back there, or some other top flight league in a major country.
If Newcastle are promoted this season — something that is distinctly possible, considering the money they have, the team and that they went right back up last time they were relegated — then you can probably bet on Yedlin staying their starting right back for 2017/18. That puts him right back in the top flight and as a starter, again at a big club where more than 50,000 fans show up every week with huge stakes. That's ideal.
But what if Newcastle aren't promoted? As much as they are a pretty good bet to go back up, betting on the Championship and promotion is foolish. It's a crazy league where the unexpected is the norm.
Yedlin could end up stuck at Newcastle in the Championship, which is hardly a disaster scenario, but far from ideal. The Magpies aren't a club that just offloads players to whoever if they get a decent fee, instead paying solid wages and building a team that gets them to and keeps them in the Premier League.
Going forward, whether Yedlin made a good move probably comes down to what league he's in next summer. Is it the Premier League — be it with Newcastle or after a sale — or is he still in the Championship? Neither is bad, but one is clearly better than the other and more in line with Yedlin's goals. It's also reasonable for the American to want in the top flight considering his play for Sunderland a year ago.
In the short-term, Yedlin nailed his transfer. And at £5 million, it's a pretty good showing of his value abroad because that makes him the most expensive American defender ever sold. As for whether the Newcastle move works for him and is objectively great, check back next summer and see what league he's in.
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(Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)