By Aayan Ghimire – LA Soccer Press
Sergino Dest has admitted that he aspires to walk in the footsteps of legendary Barcelona right back Dani Alves.
“Dani Alves is my role model,” Dest said in October. “He plays in the same position, I have seen many YouTube videos of him, and I have learned a lot.”
Barcelona signed Dest from Ajax for around ϵ20 million during the 2020 summer transfer window. The club brought him in to replace the full back Nelson Semedo, who moved from Barcelona to the English Premier League club Wolverhampton.
A Dutch-born American, Dest has a lot to live up to as Barcelona’s right back and it’s no secret that he club and its fans expect him to step into big shoes.
One of the most decorated footballers of his generation with more than 40 trophies to his name, Alves is known for bombing forward and creating chances with great crosses into the box as he helped lead Barcelona to 23 La Liga titles, three Champions Leagues, three Super Cups, three Club World Cups, four Copa Del Rey’s and four Spanish Super Cups. He also went on to win league titles with Juventus and PSG.
There are marathons to run for Dest to be in the league of Alves but he has time on his side. Just 20, Dest has good ball skills, the ability to get forward with the ball and send threatening crosses and create chances in the area.
Dest was raised through the AFC Ajax youth academy. Ajax has produced world class players like Patrick Kluivert and Luis Suarez, and its academy is well known for coaching its players to press and win the ball back as soon as the team loses possession.
In the shortened 2019/20 Edervisie, Dest had five assists to his credit and averaged 0.9 key passes a game. In his 19 games for Barcelona this season, he has averaged 1.1 key passes a game in La Liga, and 1.2 in the UEFA Champions League.
This suits Barcelona – a team that loves to play with possession – and having someone like Dest playing behind Frenkie De Jong, another Ajax product, will be a big boost as Barcelona coaches impart world class ball techniques and tactics.
A left back if need be, Dest’s versatility may come into play as Barcelona’s youth academy, La Masia, currently features a number of talented right backs. Competition on the left side is no less fierce, however, as Jordi Alba and Junior Firpo remain top of the depth chart. But Alba is already 31 years old, and Firpo has not been that impressive since his arrival. Another factor in Dest’s eventual move to the left may be the return of Emerson, the club’s once future right back, who has performed well during a loan at Real Betis.
Barcelona is not the same club as it was when Alves was there. During that time, Barca was arguably one of the best teams of all-time, with the attacking trio of MSN (Messi, Suarez and Neymar) and deft midfielders like Xavi and Iniesta in their prime.
In the current Barcelona side, Dest will not get as many assists because the team lacks a world class striker. However, once the pandemic subsides and fans are back in the field, Barcelona should have funds to strengthen its squad and Dest’s performance statistics may improve with the signing of an attacking player.
Only time will tell whether Dest indeed grows to become Barcelona’s next great right back, but he has the backing of his idol, Dani Alves, and his superstar teammates like Messi and Griezmann.
He also has the support of the Barcelona coach, Ronald Koeman, and it’s well known that when Koeman tried to convince Dest to play for the Netherlands during his time as the Dutch National Team manager.
His route may one day diverge, but for now, Dest is on the right path.
Ghimire holds a BS in Sports Management and currently resides in San Francisco, CA. He writes about European football for L.A. Soccer Press.