DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, July 5, 2011
US international David Yelldell has finally made his move to Germany's top flight, signing a multi-year contract with Bundesliga runners-up Bayer Leverkusen.
"David has arrived here at our training camp this morning," team spokesman Dirk Mesch confirmed by phone from the team's pre-season preparations in Austria, adding "His contract will be for three years."
Yelldell had spent the previous season as the unquestioned starter for 2. Bundesliga team MSV Duisburg, leading them to the final of the German Cup. His position with the team had, however, come into doubt over the past few weeks with their acquisition of former Hannover starter Florian Fromlowitz on a free transfer.
Leverkusen finished the 2010-11 season in second place behind Borussia Dortmund, enough to automatically qualify for the Champions League group stage, but are entering the season with a new coach at the reigns after Robin Dutt took over duties on June 1.
This will mark Yelldell's third spell under Dutt, with the recent Freiburg coach having coached the American both during his initial season with Stuttart Kickers' second team in 2002-03, then from 2005-2007 after Yelldell's return from two years in England at Blackburn.
The team maintains that this was not a major consideration in their decision to go after the once-capped US international, as he filled their need of adding depth at the keeper position.
"His previous connection to Robin Dutt wasn't a factor in the signing," Mesch states. "We're not looking at the past, but at the present and the future. We were looking for a third keeper and made the decision that he's the perfect guy to fulfill our wish to have three excellent keepers."
Yelldell enters the team in the depth chart behind Rene Adler, a longtime Leverkusen veteran who is widely considered to be one of Germany's top keepers. His main competition for the number-two spot is 21 year-old Fabian Giefer, who has only played sparingly for the team over the last two years.
"Rene Adler is our number one keeper, that is clear to everybody," Mesch explains. "Besides him, there will be a competition - there's no pre-determined ranking. Nobody on the team has their place guaranteed. For some, there has to be a competition."
"First he has to join the team, work, then play," he concludes.
Team chairman Wolfgang Holzhšuser believes that Yelldell's addition to the team will help them as they navigate through a trio of competitions, as the combination of their Bundesliga, Champions League and German Cup schedules will test their depth at all positions.
"With David Yelldell we were able to acquire an experienced goalkeeper," Holzhšuser stated in an official press release. "With him, Fabian Giefer and Renť Adler, we now have the depth needed in this position for the difficult task that awaits us this season."
Leverkusen still have more than four weeks of pre-season preparations before opening the season on August 7 with a trip to Mainz.