Sergino Dest: Things to Know About United States' Star of the Future

Nov 25, 2020, 5:35 PM GMT
Sergino Dest
Dest has many years at the top ahead of him | John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images

In case you didn't know, the United States are on the up.

In recent years, the red, white and blue have failed to establish themselves on the world stage - going almost two decades since they last won a game at the World Cup - but a number of breakthrough stars means they're well placed to take the men's game by storm by the time the 2026 edition rolls around.

One player who is among the crème de la crème of their new breed is attacking full-back Sergino Dest. An Ajax academy graduate, he's now kicking it with the big boys at Barcelona - where he hopes to follow in the legendary Catalan footsteps of Dani Alves and Albert Ferrer, among others.

But what makes Dest so good and what's his story? Read on and let 90min fill in the blanks.

1. A Dutchman in New York

Dest's heritage and background makes for interesting reading. He was born and raised in the Netherlands - specifically in Almere, a province in the city of Flevoland, to a Dutch mother and a Surinamese-American father.

But after making the journey to the United States for the first time in 2014, Under-20s coach Dave van den Bergh got to work on convincing Dest that his international future lay on the other side of the pond.

The rest as they say is history, and the Netherlands never got the opportunity to call him up at youth level.

2. Winger Turned Modern Day Full-Back

Sergino Dest
Dest's versatility was quickly picked up | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

One thing that stood out from a young age was Dest's maturity and his ability to adapt. A winger when he first started out, he was encouraged to move further back and slot into the back-line - with coaches knowing that his pace and natural instincts to go forward wouldn't hinder his attacking prowess.

Excellent with the ball at his feet, Dest is a direct runner who loves to take players on, in similar fashion to Dani Alves - the most decorated player of all time.

3. Instant Impact at Ajax

After an impressive debut season with Ajax's reserves, Dest was fast tracked into the first team by Erik ten Hag and played a vital role in Ajax's quest for further Eredivisie glory.

He played 36 games across all competitions, scoring twice and assisting a further six goals, and was named Ajax's Talent of the Year for 2020 - following in the footsteps of Christian Eriksen, Matthijs De Ligt, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, all of whom have won the coveted prize in years gone by.

4. Rapid United States Rise

Sergino Dest
Dest lining up ahead of United States' international friendly with Wales | John Dorton/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Dest is one of a number of young standout talents United States are looking to build their future around, and he didn't get long to bed in at international level.

After representing his country in both the Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups, as well as winning the Under-20 CONCACAF Championship, Dest was handed a maiden call-up to the senior squad in September 2019 for the friendly with Mexico.

A month later, having made his debut, he committed his competitive future to USMNT, and can look forward to a long and prosperous international career alongside the likes of Christian Pulisic, Gio Reyna, Tyler Adams and more.

5. Record Breaker

Dest's first Champions League goal came against Dynamo Kyiv | SERGEI SUPINSKY/Getty Images

Dest moved to Barcelona in October 2020 for an initial fee of €21m, potentially rising to €26m.

Upon making his debut, he became the first American to play for the club in La Liga and the Champions League, as well as the first player from Barça or Real Madrid to compete in the Clasico.

A month later, he scored in Barça's 4-0 win over Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League and, you guessed it, became the first United States international to score a professional goal for the club.

6. Part of a New Generation of Barcelona Stars

Dest, alongside Pedri and Fati, is predicted to have a bright future | LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

For years, Barcelona have relied on the brilliance of Lionel Messi.

Arguably the greatest to ever play the game, the Argentine carried the burden of expectation on his shoulders for many years, albeit with a star studded supporting cast of Luis Suarez, Neymar and many others.

Now though, attention has turned to the future - with Barça possessing some of the most promising young talents in the game, namely Pedri, Ansu Fati, Francesco Trincao and Dest - something he's thrilled to be a part of.

"It's really nice to be part of that generation," Dest said (via ESPN) when asked about the future. "I think it's also good to play with a couple of young players so that they can adjust to the level. I think it's really smart that Barca does that right now and gives us the chance to improve quicker."