Sergiño Dest is officially the first American signed by FC Barcelona’s first team, and could become the first to ever feature in a competitive match for the first team.
Konrad de la Fuente just a few weeks ago became the first American to ever play in a friendly match for Barça, but Dest may debut in an official match before him.
Konrad plays for Barcelona B, which would allow the manager, Ronald Koeman, to call him up for the first team. But Dest has signed as an official first team member. With Nélson Semedo sold to Wolverhampton Wanderers, there is an opening at right-back, although the young American will have to compete with Sergi Roberto for minutes.
Dest was born in Almere in the Netherlands to a Surinamese-American father and a Dutch mother, and could have chosen to represent either his birth country or the USA. He ended up choosing the States, starting at from the youth levels all the way to the full international team.
Koeman tried to pry Dest away from the US when the former was the Netherlands’ manager and the latter had yet to play with the American senior team, saying he saw a future for the fullback with the Oranje.
Koeman spoke about the decision after the signing was confirmed, saying, “I’ve spoken to Sergiño about the national team, because he had the possibility to play for Holland or America, but finally a decision has to be (made) by the player, because that’s his feeling from inside ... and he finally decided to play for the American national team. No problem, I think that’s good for American soccer.”
At club level, Dest has been a part of the Ajax set-up since he was a boy. Still only 19, Dest caught the eye of many of the biggest clubs in Europe, although Barcelona were the ones who in the end won his signature. He follows in the steps of many players who left Ajax for the Camp Nou, including new teammate Frenkie de Jong and indeed, Koeman himself, who played at Ajax with a stopover at PSV before joining the Catalan giants.
Alongside Konrad, also 19, there is a chance for two U-20 Americans to make an impact at Barcelona this season. That’s a stark difference from no Americans playing for the team at all since the club’s inception more than 100 years ago.