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Sergiño Dest draws plaudits for recent Barcelona performances

The American had struggled to fit in with Xavi’s system at first

FC Barcelona v Athletic Club - La Liga Santander Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Sergino Dest has reversed his situation, at least for now. During the winter transfer window, Dest was invited to consider offers for him to leave FC Barcelona. He rejected the idea, opting to stay at the Camp Nou, hoping to convince Xavi. So far, his plan has worked.

Barcelona signed Dani Alves to shore up the right-back position, and Alves has remained Xavi’s first choice when it comes to that spot. However, Dest has contributed as a substitute for Alves, as a replacement for him when he’s not available, and as the other fullback when Jordi Alba has not been ready.

While Dest did not suffer from any major injuries, constant muscular problems, as well as COVID, have interrupted his ability to gain a rhythm. There was also questions about his positioning in defense.

Reports said that Xavi was not fully convinced by Dest, but the latter has worked hard to achieve top physical shape. That has made the coach willing to take chances on Dest, which the latter has so far repaid.

Xavi did not register Alves for the Europa League, implicitly trusting that Dest would have a larger role to play in that competition. He also used him as a sub when Alves was red carded against Atlético Madrid, and then in the next match against Espanyol, when Alves was suspended.

The boss did not start him in the first match against Napoli, opting for Óscar Mingueza. But Dest came off the bench that match, and has played 90 minutes every game since. He started against Valencia, with Alves suspended, and in the return match against Napoli, with Alves unavailable as well.

And when Alves finally returned, Xavi still gave 90 minutes to Dest against Athletic Club, this time at left-back.

It remains to be seen whether Dest remains at the club past next summer. Barcelona are heavily linked with two right-backs: César Azpilicueta of Chelsea and Noussair Mazraoui of Ajax.