Expulsion from Barcelona, ​​second choice in Milan; Is his international standing under threat?

three years ago, Sergino Dest Choosing to represent the United States rather than Holland, where he was born and raised, was nothing short of a coup d’état Gregg Berhalter & Co’s US headquarters in Chicago, colloquially known as Soccer House, sounded more like a frat house Upon Dest’s decision, these were the festivities that followed .

Two years ago, he signed for Barcelona. In the process, join Christian Pulisic And the Weston McKinney As poster boys for the US men’s national team, which now includes players for three of the biggest clubs in Spain, England and Italy.

Now, however, things are different. He has not started with the club or the country since April, and Barcelona has just finished expelling him from the club, for tactical as well as financial reasons, sending him on loan to Milan, and his role in his new club can be considered as an alternative to the captain.

The national team’s friendlies against Japan and Saudi Arabia are the first time in months that Dest is expected to be one of the first names on the squad. The question, then, must be asked: Is his place in the American starting line-up at risk?

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All this changed around Dest

It’s not often that USMNT boasts a teenage boy making headlines at one of Europe’s most famous academies, like Ajax, but rarely does a star of the national team have three of the world’s biggest clubs wooed – in this case Barcelona, ​​Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain Germain. The hype in American football circles was real, and Dest did not disappoint.

In his debut season at Camp Nou, the one that began when he was still 19, under the guidance of then coach Ronald Koeman, Dest established himself as an elite attacking full back in LaLiga. Then last October, the Dutch coach was fired, and everything changed.

Opportunities are proving even more limited under the new president, Xavi Hernandez. Dest played 30 league games in 2020-21, recording 1,915 minutes. Those numbers fell to 21 games and 1514 minutes last quarter.

The American did not make a match-day squad in Barcelona’s first three league games of the 2022-23 season. There were well-documented financial considerations in the Catalan capital during the summer transfer window – the club needed to raise €700m through broadcast rights sales, promotions and outbound transfers, to stay within LaLiga’s spending limits, while its debts already exceeded €1bn – but Xavi has not. He is satisfied to play Dest, paving the way for his loan move to Milan.

The 21-year-old has moved on from sitting behind centre-back and right-back Ronald Araujo The right-back midfielder Sergio Robert In Barcelona to be the second choice for the age of 25 Rossoneri captain David Calabria. The destination has been available to Milan Stefano Pioli five times since his move to San Siro; He has yet to start and has three substitute matches and 90 minutes of play to his name – 33 of which came at the right wing, rather than at right-back.

The future that looked so bright three years ago, the momentum behind one of the United States’ most promising prospects, has abated. From the moment he announced he would represent the United States at a high level, it was seen as a lock to start the November World Cup in Qatar – and that remains the most likely outcome – but in that time, the right-back has become one of the deepest positions in Berhalter’s squad.

three years ago, Reggie Cannon It has not been tested at the highest level; He is now a regular player with Boavista in Portugal. Joe Scully He had not yet made his MLS debut with the New York City team; Now in his second season with Borussia Moenchengladbach, he continues to make his way into the starting line-up, having played all but 14 minutes of the first seven games in the Bundesliga this season – including a draw with Bayern and a dominant win over RB Leipzig. DeAndre Yedlin He returned to the national team from outside exile for 18 months, Chris Richards He did occasional extra work as a full-back at club level despite promising him a rising talent at the center of defence.

However, Berhalter has his favourite, and Dest is certainly among them, but the competition for the position is real.

Destination quality still stands

Let’s revisit the last season of Dest in Barcelona. We proved that he was an outstanding attacking right-back in his first La Liga campaign, and despite the instability he faced under Xavi, he only improved at that point in the game in 2021-22.

According to TruMedia, the past season’s average per 90 minutes was: 3.27 touches in the opponent’s box, 14.45 completed passes in the attacking third, 4.34 attempts against one, 92.4% completed passes and 0.17 passes expected. All these numbers rank 90 percent or better among the right-back players in the League.

Not only has his progress improved, but his defense has improved significantly – even if this part of his game remains average in the league. His interventions increased by a third (47th percentile to 67th percentile), the percentage of successful interventions increased from 35.6 to 40.5 (24th percentile to 40th percentile), and he moved from 5.08 ball recoveries per 90th to 5.53 (37th percentile to 57th percentile).

While Dest’s place in Milan’s depth chart looks worrisome from a distance, despite his growing game, there are positives to draw from his position there.

Pioli’s plan for 2022-23 from the start has been to rotate with Calabria Alessandro Florenzi. When the latter suffered a hamstring injury that would keep him out until at least February, though, Rossoneri The signature of another right-back is required. Enter the destination. Such an arrangement must ensure that he sees the field on a consistent basis.

Early comments from Casa Milan are also encouraging. Part of the US international’s limited use can be attributed to his lack of match fitness, and sources have told ESPN’s Gabe Marcotti of the club that the club believes Dest has the tools to develop into a player who can contribute.

Three years ago, few would have expected that he would yearn for playing time, to fend off the challenges to his place in the national team from his countrymen at clubs with more modest ambitions. Most of them expected that he would be at a historic club in one of Europe’s top five leagues, and he is; The road he took there was a little more tortuous than many expected.

For an NFL organization that has been waiting five years for this World Cup, patience with the Dest trajectory will pay off.