From Ajax to Barcelona: Sergino Dest follows in the footsteps of Cruyff, Neeskens, Kluivert, de Jong and many others

On Friday, 19-year-old Sergino Dest will be introduced as Barcelona's latest signing.

Dest has signed a five-year deal after Ajax and Barcelona agreed to a 21 million euros ($25 million) fee plus a potential 5 million euros ($6 million) based on his meeting performance targets. The buyout clause in Dest's contract will be 400 million euros ($470 million).

Dest was targeted by Bayern Munich, which seemed to have the inside track on signing him, but he will wear the No. 2 jersey -- and play at right back -- for the club of his dreams.

He will also join a long line of players who have moved from Ajax to Barcelona. Indeed, few clubs are linked as closely as Barcelona and Ajax.

It all began in 1971 when Rinus Michels arrived as head coach from Ajax, which had just won its first European Cup title. Two year later, Barcelona signed the great Johan Cruyff from Ajax, which had just won its third straight European Cup.

In his first season, Cruyff led Barcelona to the LaLiga title, its first since 1960, and he became a hero in Catalonia, where citizens still lived under the fascist regime of Generalissimo Francisco Franco. In one of the greatest results in Barca history, it traveled to play Real Madrid, which Cruyff said he could never play for because of its ties to Franco, and beat its archrival, 5-0.

The next season, after the Netherlands' second-place finish at the World Cup in Germany, Johan Neeskens arrived from Ajax. And through the years, many Ajax stars have moved to Barcelona.

Most of them have been Dutch: Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids, Marc Overmars, Michael Reiziger, Winston Bogarde and twin brothers Frank and Ronald de Boer in the 1990s, Frenkie de Jong last season. But others have foreigners who have gone on to have great careers, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who lasted only a season and a half at the Camp Nou, and Luis Suarez, who spent six seasons at Barcelona after moving from Ajax to Liverpool.

But it was Cruyff's influence as a coach, returning to Barcelona in 1988 and building the "Dream Team" that won Barca's first Champions League title in 1992, that is his lasting legacy. Cruyff revolutionized Barcelona's youth system and its style of play, introducing the methods he had adopted at Ajax.

In 2014, when Barcelona and Ajax met in the Champions League, Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf that Cruyff was even more important to Barcelona as a coach than as a player.

"He changed everything about the professional environment here," he said. "He changed our way of thinking through his ideas about soccer, how he interpreted games, and how the club as a whole was run. He saw how much talent there was in the Masia, and gave all that talent a chance to play in the first team.”

One of Cruyff's players was Pep Guardiola, who would later lead Barcelona to its greatest success as its head coach with players like Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi.

Bartomeu said Cruyff was Guardiola’s greatest inspiration. "As a player and as a coach," he said, "he owes a lot to Johan. Pep had many different coaches during his playing career, but it was from Johan that he learned the most."

Bartomeu, who is still president, said Barca is the "son of Ajax," which can feel proud of what has been achieved at Barcelona.

And watch as its best young players, like de Jong and Dest on the current team, quickly move on in their careers.

15 comments about "From Ajax to Barcelona: Sergino Dest follows in the footsteps of Cruyff, Neeskens, Kluivert, de Jong and many others".
  1. frank schoon, October 2, 2020 at 8:45 a.m.

    At this time, I have no idea what they see in Dest. This kid hasn't even proven his worth at Ajax. You can't tell me a team like Barcelona couldn't find a better, more experienced back ,especially with the money and prestige this club carries. Looking a good decent back in the world is a lot easier than looking for good striker. The only reason Dest is at Barcelona is because of Ronald Koeman for no other coach would have thought of getting Dest.

  2. Stephen Hooks replied, October 2, 2020 at 9:27 a.m.

    I get your logic to a small degree but what Dest has already shown at 18/19 years is the stuff the tops clubs do not want to miss out on. Bayern and PSG also wanted him badly. He is the kind of talent at an age that a club can use for years and years to come. 

    There is alot Dest does already that is not teachable and these clubs see this. 

  3. frank schoon replied, October 2, 2020 at 10:15 a.m.

    Stephen, what is it 'specifically',enumerate what you state Dest does is not 'teachable'? In a dutch interview today, Dest admits he has is not ready for he has not learned what he needs to learn at Ajax. He further stated, he was hesitant leaving Ajax and going to Barcelona or Bayern was like jumping off of the deep end for he knows not what to expect....

  4. Wooden Ships replied, October 2, 2020 at 12:08 p.m.

    As we've agreed earlier about remaining at Ajax, here's another take. Playing now with arguably, or not, a better side, he will have to hold is on. Could we witness what transpired with our north of the border counterpart in Davies. Alphonso exploded into one of the best backs in the world playing with Bayern. Albeit, some differences between the two, but both young in age at the time of the move. 

    On a side note, having two USMNT players with Barca is historical. Just have to hope Barca becomes stable-sorted out, with a settled and happy team. 

  5. Wooden Ships replied, October 2, 2020 at 12:08 p.m.

    hold his own

  6. frank schoon replied, October 2, 2020 at 1:19 p.m.

    Ships , point well taken but realize Davies is a runner and fits more with the German scheme of things and realize Bayern has lost, or rather has lost their Guardiola way of playing which would fit Dest better.

    Dest stated he wanted to emulate Dani Alves his hero of playing back. Dest has work technically on crosses which is not his strong point. We'll see. The other American on Barcelona , I know nothing of ,we'll see.

    BTW, check this outside of the foot pass by Frenkie de Jong at Barcelona. How rare do you see this type of cross in Pro-soccer today....that was normal 50years ago...Google it then watch it....Players today don't do passes like that...

    Spaanse kranten lyrisch over Frenkie de Jong: 'De directeur van de machinekamer' |

  7. frank schoon, October 2, 2020 at 1:38 p.m.

    Ships, watch Ansu Fati the left wing for Barcelona, 17 years old.

  8. Bob Ashpole replied, October 2, 2020 at 2:28 p.m.

    Watched it. Thanks. The youngster is just going to get better and better. Fun to watch.

  9. frank schoon replied, October 2, 2020 at 2:48 p.m.

    This is the type shake and bake, small steps, movements that CP misses and would have learned playing in more technical coutries...Watch Ziyech from Ajax now playing at Chelsea. Note ,likewise, he brings much more dimension to the game then CP who is also a wing..

    Google it, then play it. Let me know what you think

    Chelsea-debuut Ziyech: nu al nummer één voor vrije trappen en corners |

  10. Seth Vieux replied, October 3, 2020 at 1:06 p.m.

    Frank, certainly Ziyech is a fine player, and I think he'll play an important role for Chelsea once he's fit (which I hear may be very soon), but think Lampard will felt more on Pulisic, Havertz, and possibly Werner (who is not fitting right in so far). I certainly hope Ziyech starts taking minutes from Mount (with Havertz ultimately taking his role while Ziyech plays wide right).

    Read Chelsea is looking hard to loan out Hudson-Odoi, Loftus-Cheek, and Barkley.

  11. frank schoon replied, October 3, 2020 at 1:21 p.m.

    Seth, I don't think Ziyech is the type to be on the bench. As a player his style has so many more options and you don't know what he's going to do. He's not depended on speed but brains, technique, and savviness. Not only is he good 1v1 but has the wherewith all to take advantage of the other options available employing great passing skills. It makes for the defender to guard him for he has another that he can go to. As you notice in this video,  as a new player  he takes all the corners and free kicks...that says already where he's at in the hierarchy of the team...

  12. Seth Vieux replied, October 3, 2020 at 2:40 p.m.

    Oh I'm not saying I expect Ziyech to be riding the pine, I think he'll be very important to the team, but not not convinced he'll be the one winger always in Lampard's first choice. I believe he's played one friendlyagainst Brighton? Not sure him taking all free kicks when the only other options in the starting line up with him are guys that are being forced out on loan (Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi) and ten other guys that played that day will never play a minute in a competitive match for Chelsea this year. I think Lampard ASKING CP to wear the #10 shirt might also say something about where he's at in the hierarchy of the team :-)

  13. frank schoon replied, October 3, 2020 at 4:24 p.m.

    Seth , We'll see. The way I look at it is that Ziyech is different type of winger than what they will have on the leftside. The rightside , whereZiyech is,  will offer more attacking options as compared to the leftside if ,for example, CP is there. On the right side there will be more playing combinations, more runs from different players going there. more combinations, more intricate passes and accurate passes coming from the foot of Ziyech can drop unexpectedly behind defenders like you see Ziyech perform in this clip. In other words the opponents will have to place alot more defensive attention to their left side because of it as  compared to their right side where CP could play. CP's game is very one-sided and one dimensional, expect 1v1 or 1v2 tries and runs, it's more simplistic and straight forward. CP doesn't have the extra 'stuff' that Ziyech has. Chelsea didn't buy Ziyech for his running prowess or fighting duels,  he is the brains an architect of some sorts...Look at him, his build, body's nothing....

    This is how Ajax was set up. In other words the flanks are different not the same. One flank is straight forward and the other side is loosey goosey where a lot more creative play is initiated due to having creative players. Ziyech would play on the loosey goosey side. You don't want both sides being loosey goosey for that can create much risk for counterattacks. This is why Ajax allows one creative side only and likewise they don't want both flanks play a in a straight forware manner .

     I can't wait when Ziyech is healthy to see how Chelsea will play

    The way I look at is at Ajax always played with wingers that were different and not similar in style of play and that is reflected in the flank's manner of play. We had a 'tutti-Frutti' and a 'serious side'. The former was playfull side which was the leftside. On that side Cruyff, Keizer and Kroll played with the lefthalf being the stable one. The right side kept it straight forward, in other words, if the right back overlapped the right half took  over his position and the right wing took the right half's position.  Once the back finishes his attack down the wing he didn't have to run back to his postion but stayed thereby saving energy. The lefttwing side you didn't know what to expect other than the lefthalf remained in his position.

    You had to have one flank playing it straight and the other loosey goosey. 

  14. Kevin Leahy, October 3, 2020 at 4:01 p.m.

    Frank, I understand your wondering about Dest being ready but, Koeman is the one putting himself @ risk. If he didn't think he could get what he wants or needs from Dest why, would he risk bringing him in. Looking forward to seeing how it all plays out!

  15. frank schoon replied, October 3, 2020 at 4:39 p.m.

    Kevin, we'll see. Apparent Dest might start agains Seville depending on the paperwork is on time.

    I wouldn't call it a risk,after all Dest has played some games with Ajax so he has some experience. He'll be on a learning curve which is fine. Koeman wants to play a 4-2-3-1 which means more running for Dest for the spacing , the gap between him and the second line (3) is bigger than normal.  I would like to know how that will fare. Unfortunately I don't BeIN sports to watch Barcelona. 

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