A fullback with the dribbling and trickery of a winger, but the aura of a mediapunta. The multiple roles that his profile fits and his general multi-functional nature should be enough to at least make Sergiño Dest a crucial member of the first team. But in his case, his strength is simultaneously a coach’s headache, as Ronald Koeman has struggled to utilise the American’s talent.
On one hand, there’s his technique, close control and eye for the spectacular, which suggest he would be a very good choice in advanced midfield. Inventiveness, especially in enclosed spaces, is one of Dest’s most valuable traits, and it’s by playing in the centre of the park that he would fully utilise that. Yet his lack of positional understanding severely diminishes his impact there, not to mention that no. 10s aren’t in demand at Barça.
Then, there’s his dribbling and deadly acceleration that would suit a winger like a glove. Ronald Koeman has attempted to use him far up the field before, but hesitated due to Sergiño’s deficiencies in 1v1s which, contrary to popular belief, aren’t among the American’s strengths. His timing, crucial for that position, is also lacking.
As a fullback, defensive discipline and anticipation are the problem. As an inverted fullback? For me, it’s there that the solution lies. Whether it’s closer to the right or left, playing more centrally satisfies the majority of Sergiño Dest’s offensive needs. Especially against low blocks, his brilliance in tight areas, but also his burst of speed and creativity would finally unleash Dest. It’s an unproven theory, but one that’s worth a shot.
Without a doubt, Sergiño Dest is still raw material and should improve in some facets of his game. Elements like the build-up phase. Nonetheless, it’s by constantly playing that he will do so. So we have to try our best to fulfill his potential.