Just two days after being formally introduced as FC Barcelona’s newest signing, Sergino Dest was thrust into the action in a marquee La Liga showdown on Sunday.
The U.S. Men’s National Team defender made his Barcelona debut as a 74th-minute replacement in Barcelona’s 1-1 draw with reigning Europa League winner Sevilla. Dest became the first American to ever play for Barcelona in an official match when he replaced injured left back Jordi Alba.
Dest played 16 minutes at left back, completing all 11 of his passes, contributing an interception and key pass. He looked comfortable despite having had just a few days of training since arriving from Ajax earlier in the week.
The 19-year-old defender was a transfer target of Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman, who was familiar with Dest after trying unsuccessfully to recruit him to play for the Netherlands when Koeman was Dutch National Team manager.
Dest ultimately chose to play for the United States, but Koeman didn’t hold any grudges, and instead saw him as a prospect who could help Barcelona’s roster revamp.
Dest has been brought in to compete for the starting right back role, but his versatility means he can also step in at left back when needed, and that need arose on Sunday when Jordi Alba went down with an injury.
A USMNT starter, be it at right back or left back, Dest has made a promising debut at the Camp Nou and will now have time to acclimate himself in his new home during the international break. The USMNT doesn’t have any games scheduled in October, meaning Dest can focus on settling in at Barcelona before league play resumes.
Barcelona returns to action on Oct. 18 against Getafe before kicking off its UEFA Champions League group stage against Hungarian side Ferencvaros on Oct. 20.
Dest is no stranger to Champions League play, having featured in the competition with Ajax last season.