For American Napoli fans or just Napoli fans who want to see the club accumulate high-quality young talent, this story is for you.
According to Sky Sports, Napoli and Anderlecht have joined in the race to sign American right back DeAndre Yedlin, rushing in to try and beat AS Roma to a deal for the highly-touted 21 year old. Reports from yesterday that Roma already had a deal in place to sign Yedlin were roundly rubbished this morning, and now more teams are jockeying for the youngster's signature.
For his part, Yedlin seems pretty relaxed about the whole thing, despite his new-found stardom:
"I'm letting my reps take care of that and they'll get back to me on that information," Yedlin said about the rumors in particular. "Right now I'm just focused on Seattle, focused on hopefully winning MLS Cup and just looking to come back and do well."
-Source: Sounder at Heart
Yedlin, who currently plays for his hometown Seattle Sounders in MLS, has been on a meteoric rise since signing for the club just over eighteen months ago. Forced in to the starting lineup by an injury to Adam Johansson, Yedlin adjusted quickly and played so well that the Sounders released Johansson not long after. He made the MLS All-Star team as a rookie and played well against Roma in that match, likely the start of the Roman club's interest in him.
Yedlin has continued his successful play this season, and forced himself in to the national team picture. He made three undeniably successful substitute appearances during the World Cup for the United States men's national team, most notably his early call-in for an injured Fabian Johnson against Belgium in the round of 16. While the USMNT ultimately lost the match, Yedlin put in an inspired performance, making noise in attack and keeping a previously red-hot Eden Hazard largely contained.
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Yedlin is still fairly raw thanks to spending two years in the American collegiate system prior to going pro, but his developmental curve has been so steep he's more or less made up for lost time. Most talks of a deal have involved him staying in Seattle until the end of the MLS season (their playoff rounds run through November if the Sounders make the MLS Cup), either via loan or a transfer delayed until January. That makes sense for everyone involved, as he wouldn't be a clear starter anywhere he's been linked to, and that way he could keep getting valuable minutes to keep growing as a player.
Given Napoli's current situation at right back, with a 32-and-regressing-fast Christian Maggio as the presumptive starter thanks to no one quite being sure if Camilo Zuniga will stick around for long, bringing in Yedlin makes a ton of sense. His youth and energy and style fit in well with the project that Rafa Benitez has put in place, and there's little doubt that he has the projection remaining to be a quality right back in Serie A.
It's hard not to like the idea of this deal. Roma will serve as stiff competition as the two teams are similarly well-suited to Yedlin's future and they were in on a deal first, but that shouldn't deter Napoli's efforts to seal this particular deal. Yedlin can be an important part of Napoli's future, and can lend a solid hand in the shorter term as well. Go get him, Bigon. You know you want to.