It has been exactly one month since the last time Sergiño Dest took the field in a match for FC Barcelona, and it remains unclear when, or if, we will see him with the Spanish giants once again.
That uncertainty, and Dest’s current limbo, doesn’t have U.S. men’s national team head coach Gregg Berhalter worried though. He believes the young fullback will be just fine for when the Americans resume Concacaf World Cup qualifying in less than two weeks time.
“I speak to Sergino all the time and he’s in a situation where it’s probably at one of the biggest clubs in the world and there’s a lot of pressure,” Berhalter said when asked about Dest by SBI. “There’s a lot of pressure every single week and I think he does a good job of dealing with that, and not letting it affect them too much.
“He’s a competitor and he’s a guy that I can I can see, you know, waiting for an opportunity then when he gets this opportunity performing well,” Berhalter said. “He’s resilient, and he has the right mindset to do it. He’s been working hard. He had a little injury setback at the end of the year with his back, but he’s committed to making it work and he has a great attitude towards that.”
Dest has fallen out of favor at Barcelona since the firing of Ronald Koeman as manager. Xavi replaced Koeman in late October and Dest’s standing as a regular starter disappeared. The USMNT start went from starting the final nine matches of Koeman’s tenure to now having made just four starts in 16 matches since Xavi took charge, and while some of those missed matches were down to a pair of minor injuries, including a back issue that prematurely ended his 2021, Dest has returned to full fitness and still hasn’t appeared for Barcelona in 2022.
Xavi’s decision not to include Dest in his squad for Barcelona’s Spanish Super Cup semi-final first-leg loss to Real Madrid on Wednesday served as the most damning evidence yet that Dest’s days at the Camp Nou are numbered, with Chelsea and Bayern Munich both heavily linked to moves for the USMNT standout.
Chelsea is in need of a fullback after losing Ben Chilwell to a torn ACL in December, while Bayern has Alphonso Davies after the Canadian star was recently diagnosed with myocarditis, heart inflammation caused by Covid that will sideline for an as-yet-unknown amount of time.
Bayern was the team most interested in acquiring Dest when he joined Barcelona via transfer from Ajax in 2021, but Chelsea has emerged as the most aggressive suitor at the moment, seeing Dest as an ideal fit to provide depth at both wingback positions in Thomas Tuchel’s system, where Dest would join USMNT teammate Christian Pulisic.
Berhalter is confident that Dest won’t let his club uncertainty impact his performance when the USMNT returns to World Cup qualifying in two weeks with a January 27 home match against El Salvador in Columbus, but the USMNT coach will be hoping Dest’s club situation is resolved sooner than later so he can return to action and earn some playing time ahead of an important three-game stretch in qualifying.
What do you think of Dest’s situation? Where would you like to see him wind up? Would you start Dest for the USMNT in the upcoming qualifiers even if he hasn’t been playing on the club level?
Share your thoughts below.