KENYA BROWN - Thursday, October 1, 2020
After months of speculation about Sergino Dest's future, it was confirmed on Thursday that the right-back has officially signed with Spanish La Liga giants Barcelona from Ajax.
According to details of the transfer, both teams agreed to a fee of 21 million euros with the potential of another five million euros being paid. He has signed a five-year contract that includes a 400-million euro buyout clause.
There had been rumors circulating over the past few months that there was interest in the 19-year-old by some of the biggest teams in Europe. Later on, that dwindled down to just two as Barcelona along with German Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich expressing strong interest in Dest.
It was reported that representatives for the Bavaria-based team traveled to Amsterdam on two occasions to hash out a deal with Ajax. However, they could not come to an agreement.
Barcelona, on the other hand, had an advantage when they appointed one of their former legendary players, Ronald Koeman, to the post at the end of last season. The Dutchman has been a huge admirer of Dest that he tried to persuade him to commit his international career to the Netherlands when he was the coach. However, the Almere-born defender decided to represent the United States national team.
That decision did not deter Koeman as he has been working in overdrive to make changes to an aging Barcelona team that struggled following the restart of La Liga and Champions League after the COVID-19 shutdown. The board, which had no funds whatsoever for transfers, had to make some moves in order to build up enough money for an offer.
Fortunately, with the transfer of Portuguese international Nelson Semedo to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the English Premier League, that gave Barcelona the cash to pick up Dest.
The transfer marks an extraordinary year for the Dutch-American. Having joined the perrenial Eredivisie champions in 2018 from Almere City, he would first play for the Jong Ajax, the reserve team, for a season. His performances earned him a rapid promotion to the first team for the 2019-2020 season.
Dest would go on to establish himself as the first choice right-back and he made an impact as made 35 apperances in all competitions in the COVID-shortened season. His performances would see him win Ajax's Talent of the Year award.
Now, it's off to a bigger challenge as Dest heads to Catalonia to play for the Blaugrana.
He joins the long list of Ajax players that have gone on to play for Barcelona such as the late Johan Cryuff, Patrick Kluivert, Marc Overmars and Frenkie de Jong.
Dest won't be alone in Barcelona as he will have Konrad de la Fuente to help him get adjusted to his new surroundings.