Credit: si.com

Sergino Dest: Another Ajax man with an eye on bigger things

When Ajax were making waves in the Champions League last season there were not many football fans who could have picked Sergino Dest out of a line up. Now though, the picture is much different for the young fullback. Give it another few months and it’s quite possible the whole world will be familiar with the name Sergino Dest.​

Sergino Dest’s American Dream?

Dest was born and raised in Holland yet his loyalty at international level sits with the United States. The reason? Well, it’s two fold. First of all, he qualifies through his father who is a Surinamese-American that grew up in Brooklyn. The second, and perhaps most relevant reason, is because the Dutch shafted him at youth level. He’s spoken openly in the past how he felt like ‘sh*t’ after failing to make it through the selection process. It was at this point when his father muted the possibility of switching allegiance to the US. ​

The US were not about to let a talent slip through their fingers. He was part of their squad at the 2017 under 17 World Cup before heading to the same tournament with the under 20’s in 2019. What followed earlier this season, on September 7, was a friendly debut for the senior side. It ended badly as Mexico turned them over 3-0 but a second cap followed within a few days as he played 70 minutes on the left side of defence in a 1-1 draw with Uruguay. Two months later, he played the full 90 – this time at right back – in a CONCACAF Nations League tie. His colours are now firmly nailed on. He’s an American with a Dutch passport.​

A stellar season​

Dest has been on the books at Ajax since 2012, when he was just 11. They snapped him up from Almere, who were his local team growing up not too far outside of Amsterdam. Last season though, he didn’t make a single appearance for the club. Instead, he was confined to their youth side where he contributed four goals and six assists as he played in various positions ranging from right back, where he spends most of his time, to left wing.

This season has been somewhat of a different story. He started the campaign in the squad and quickly made his mark on the field in both the league and Champions League. Initially, he was vying for a starting spot with Moroccan defender Noussair Mazraoui. Now there is no contest. The right back position belongs to Dest. It already seems bigger things are around the corner.​

Style of play​

During his breakthrough campaign, Dest has been involved in eight goals in 36 games. That’s a goal involvement every 4.5 games, which isn’t half bad for a defender in his first season of senior football. It should give you some insight into how this young man plays the game too. He loves to get forward. Dest is comfortable carrying the ball and he does so at speed but his biggest quality is perhaps the fact he boasts two strong feet. As soon as his team win possession deep in their half, he’ll hug the touchline with no lack of confidence to take the ball whislt under pressure. From there his first thought is always to play forwards. ​

Attack, attack, attack. When he does penetrate into opposition territory, his quick feet allow him to leave defenders in a spin as he can go beyond them both ways. If he gets shown inside, then he can look to fire a shot on goal but when he goes the other way, he has the ability to put quality crosses in the box hence his assists stats.

Of course, there are two aspects to the game. Defensively, Dest needs some polishing but that’s regularly the case with younger full backs. The good news is, Dest has shown to have a head that is firmly screwed on leaving no doubt that his duties to defend will improve with experience. His limited PB exposure reads reasonably well too with an average score of 101.​

Now what?​

Is it too soon for Dest to move into one of Europe’s top five leagues? The general consensus is…no! Although it is possible he will spend another year with Ajax. German giants Bayern Munich are known admirers of the 19-year-old and Dest has reportedly expressed an interest in heading to the Bundesliga but they’re not alone in monitoring his progress.

In England, Jose Mourinho is eager to add another right back to his squad with Serge Aurier an inconsistent performer at best. Sure, Dest’s defensive fragility doesn’t immediately scream Mourinho but the Portuguese is trying to implement a slightly different style at Tottenham and Dest could prove a good value addition, which will tick the boxes for Daniel Levy.

Even if it’s not this year, a move for Sergino Dest will come. When it does £1.62 will look a good price.​

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