Ronald Koeman had been Barcelona manager for a matter of days when he asked for Sergino Dest to be signed. Until then the Catalans had favoured Norwich City’s Max Aarons as they searched for a new right back in the transfer market, but Koeman wanted Dest, someone the former Netherlands boss had watched closely during his time at Ajax.
At first, Dest made a good impression at the Camp Nou. Even at Barca’s lowest points under Koeman, the American international was a relatively consistent performer. Dest became one of the Dutch coach’s most trusted players, even operating on the right wing as Koeman struggled for width in his attack.
More recently, though, Dest’s role at Barcelona has been called into question, certainly since the return of Dani Alves to the club. At 38 years old, most believed Alves would be a depth option and a dressing room leader, but Xavi Hernandez has started the Brazilian in three successive matches, with Dest left out of the side completely in today’s Supercopa de España semi-final against Real Madrid.
“His problem is physical, otherwise we would have used him more,” Xavi recently reasoned when asked to explain why Dest hasn’t featured more under his stewardship. “He has had a very hard lumbago, now he has overloaded adductors. It’s not mental or footballing, but he is not well, he is not ready to play. It’s a physical problem and nothing more.”
Nonetheless, transfer speculation continues to link Dest with a move away from Barcelona. With the 2022 World Cup on the horizon, the defender needs regular game time to properly prepare for the tournament. The US men’s national team will need Dest to be at the peak of his powers in Qatar. He is, after all, one of their best players.
Bayern Munich have a long-term interest in Dest and are believed to have maintained that interest. The American had a choice between Barcelona and the Bundesliga giants when he was leaving Ajax 18 months ago and opted for the former. However, there might still be a place for Dest at the latter.
Benjamin Pavard is Bayern Munich’s first choice right back and is a proven performer at the top of club and international soccer. He is a World Cup winner. However, Pavard is relatively limited as a modern full back and this is where the Allianz Arena outfit might see Dest as a more dynamic option. He would give Bayern Munich another dimension in attack.
At Bayern Munich, Dest would become a component in a winning machine. The Bavarians are among the very best at regeneration and if the American international can make himself a part of that process it could give him a decade at the top of the German and European game. Bayern Munich don’t make many missteps in the transfer market and even those who don’t immediately shine are generally given time to find their feet.
Chelsea have also been mentioned as potential suitors for Dest even though they have a long-term right back in the form of Reece James. Ben Chilwell’s injury, which is expected to keep the England international sidelined until the summer, has opened up a spot at left wing back where Dest is capable of playing.
What’s more, Cesar Azpilicueta’s contract will expire at the end of the season with the Spaniard reportedly close to signing for Barcelona as a free agent. This could see Dest or James, should the American international pitch up at Stamford Bridge, used as a right-sided duo with one at wing back and one on the right side of a back three. It could work.
Arsenal were linked with a move for Dest in the summer transfer window as they looked for a new right back. However, the Gunners signed Takehiro Tomiyasu from Bologna instead with the Japanese international since going on to become a key figure for Mikel Arteta’s team. The opportunity for Dest to play for Arsenal may have passed.
A move to Tottenham Hotspur on the other side of the North London soccer divide could make sense, though, with Antonio Conte keen for a new right wing back to be added to his squad in the January transfer window. In many ways, Dest would fit the bill for the Italian coach, but would find himself in direct competition with former Barca teammate Emerson Royal again.
Dest’s desire to play for Barcelona was clear when he chose to sign for the club despite all their obvious issues. However, the American must look after his own career and if Barca is no longer the best place for him to develop he must make a move, whether it’s to Bayern Munich, Chelsea or somewhere else.