Yes, you read the title correctly. While it may be a controversial opinion, I genuinely believe that the former Seattle Sounders man has more natural talent than them all.
The performance he put in against albeit, a poor Rotherham side, was absolutely outstanding. A mixture of maturity and blistering pace is not something you could associate with any other full back of recent memory.
Danny Simpson was sturdy, but was upgraded by the more advanced Mathieu Debuchy. He jumped ship when the chance to go to the Emirates presented itself, and was replaced by virtually a carbon copy in Daryl Janmaat. Both were viewed as the prototype right sided defender. Both were able to push further forward and get involved in attacks, it was coming back that was the problem however. By the end of last season, the latter was punching walls and losing his place to a holding midfielder. Needless to say, neither are very popular figures on Tyneside anymore.
Granted, Vurnon Anita has performed admirably, but his recent injury lay-off may just prove to be a blessing in disguise. This is DeAndre’s time to shine, and he really is grabbing it with both hands. He will be first choice now for at least another month, giving him the prime opportunity to cement himself under Rafa Benitez.
It is easy to forget that this is a man that is still only 23 years old. To put that into perspective, he is two weeks older than Ayoze Perez. Let that sink in. Perez has been viewed as a prospect since his arrival, so what does that say about Yedlin’s development?
When he first walked into the team, his cameos against Brighton and Derby didn’t really enable us to pass significant judgement on him (even though he scored at Pride Park). At Villa Park, he was excellent. The fact that he was forced off through injury was a real downer on that day, after fans had stood on their feet each time he received the ball.
Since then, whilst it has gone under the radar, he has added 5 assists this season. For someone whose primary focus is on defending, that is impressive. In fact, that is only bettered by Shelvey (10) and Ritchie (8) across all competitions thus far. It speaks volumes of just how effective the American has been going forward. The best part of it is that there is so much more to come, especially given the fact that he will get a real run in the team now.
Yet, I still see people claiming that Anita is the most reliable option in terms of a defensive standpoint. If you ask me, that is just an easy assumption. Let’s have a look at some stats, they are always fun. For every 90 minutes, Anita averages 1.27 tackles per game and Yedlin averages 1.14. Close, but Anita edges it. Aerial duels? Anita, 18.42% success rate. Yedlin, 62.50%. Yedlin also out performs Anita in the clearance department. He averages 4.66 clearances per 90 minutes, which betters Anita’s 3.33.
So, who is more “defensively reliable”? The fact that you even have to think about it just shows how much more well-rounded Yedlin is. Going forward, he is miles better than any full back we have had in years. Defensively, he is no worse than his current team-mate, who in turn was better than Janmaat and Debuchy in my eyes.
We have been needing a balanced right back at St James’ Park since long before most can remember. DeAndre Yedlin could well be that.
Perhaps we should thank the wonderful Sam Allardyce for tuning up his defensive abilities last season, just in time for our promotion charge.