Barcelona unleashes its new weapon: 'The Dest' and 'The Best'

It's too early to know where Sergino Dest will end up playing for the U.S. national team: right back or left back?

But he has certainly found his position at Barcelona.

The 20-year-old Dest enjoyed his best game since moving to Spain, scoring Barca's second and third goals in a 6-1 win at Real Sociedad.

Both goals -- Dest's first in LaLiga -- came on runs from his position as the right wing back in Barca's 3-5-2 formation.

"The game system is going very well for me and the team," Dest told Barca TV after Sunday's match. "We are scoring, playing a good game and the manager has many options to choose from. The feeling is amazing, really amazing, even more so because we won 6-1 against a difficult opponent."

Since Dest's ignominious performance in Barcelona's 4-1 loss to Paris St. Germain in February, his improved form coincided with Barca head coach Ronald Koeman's decision to institute a 3-5-2 formation.

Barcelona was written off at the end of December, but it now only trails first-place Atletico Madrid by four points with an 18-game unbeaten streak (15 wins and three ties).

"We are good now and we have to continue in this way," said Dest. "I am very happy for the two goals and for helping the team. The team is on a good path and we have to continue like this, but we haven't done anything yet."

The lineup change allows Dest to concentrate on getting forward with 21-year-old Oscar Mingueza covering for him as the right-sided defender on Barca's backline. Lionel Messi, who set up Dest's first goal, added two goals to give him a league-leading 23 goals, but Koeman preferred to focus on the contributions of others like Dest.

"It's always important for players other than Leo to score goals," the Barca coach said. "That way it's much harder to defend against us."

Mundo Deportivo, the Catalan-based sports daily, was quick to dub the new Barca pairing: "The Dest" and "The Best."

23 comments about "Barcelona unleashes its new weapon: 'The Dest' and 'The Best'".
  1. beautiful game, March 22, 2021 at 8:57 a.m.

    Dest deserves kudos for his performance and Barca  victory v Real Sociedad. Yes, Mr. Kennedy, he had a difficult time against PSG in the first CL match-up when he was left alone to defend against Mbappe who took advantage of poor Barca defensive marking and effort. In that game coach Koeman put forth a poor game plan and Barca's defense suffered the whole game as PSG counterattacked into open space with speed and precision. IMHO, Koeman's biggest flaw is his loyalty to some players on the pitch who when they have a poor game for 80-minutes, usually there is no sub in sight until the 80th+ minute. His refusal to give more playing to Puig appears to be based for a lack of confidence because of his size when in fact Puig gives more energy to the Barca attack from MF. Those 5-8 minutes of sporadic game time for Puig is a confidence killer.

  2. frank schoon, March 22, 2021 at 10:26 a.m.

    I don't get the Euphoria here,PLEAZZZE. Several games ago, the Spanish Press was saying Dest couldn't  find his butt out there, and was benched for a while and now all of sudden they are happy. Likewise,  Koeman, 2 weeks ago, stated, Dest still has to learn so much about the game. So I guess Dest has learned so much in those several games ending  up scoring two goals. This is not how one judges how the well player has grown in his development  in just those few games played since..

    The problem with the Soccer Journalism is that so many don't understand the game, they just go with the wind in their reporting.  We get headlines from abroad about our players scoring in such glowing terms even if the ball just happen to accidentally hit off the back of his head..... Just like in the recent headline where Alex Mendez got the assist for Ajax 'B' team to win the game. The assist was actually a corner kick where 20 players were all waiting for the ball and somehow somebody got his head in the way of the ball and scored.

    We've got to tone it down in our exuberance even though some of the goals scored can be nice. The 6-1 game obviously says more  about Real Sociedad defense and the team as whole. That should tell you enough why a back can possible score 2 goals in this game....This isn't rocket science. I can only imagine if Dani Alves was still playing back, what a shooting gallery that would have been.  Barcelona sometimes had 8 men in Real's penalty area including our backs thus leaving only 2 defenders, which is not smart, to thwart off a counter by Real Sociedad 

    The point I'm making is that we should not judge players, so quickly, whenever they score  goal(s)  for anyone on the field can score when the opportunity presents itself. We need to look more deeper at so many other factors which makes up the player's abilities, which is never discussed. Instead, it seems the measuring stick for a players ability is measured when he scores a goal in a game. That Dest scored 2 goals shouldn't be a surprise ,after all, you have to have some quality to play for Barcelona.

  3. Ben Myers replied, March 22, 2021 at 11:46 a.m.

    Dest has had his ups and downs playing for a Barca squad that is still pretty good.  His overall trend is upward and positive. Berhalter needs to consider a starting spot for Dest, along with McKennie, Reyna, Robinson, Chandler and others who get regular playing time in the top European leagues.  The USMNT, with proper selection, can be both an experienced and a young energetic squad.

  4. frank schoon replied, March 22, 2021 at 12:45 p.m.

    Ben ,I agree. Dest is improving, otherwise he wouldn't start at times. Did you see his move with 2 guys on him in the beginning of that video....obviously he learned that in Holland. Realize he didn't learned that at Ajax, he picked that up as he developed, playing with his buddies pickup ....This is where I lament over our boys don't do attempt this. We're missing something in our development here and resulting for them  all looking to same out there, all play stiff and look so programmed..There is no reason why our boys are not pushed to be more creative.....

    Just look at our Olympic qualifications, there is not one player on that field that stands out above the rest, they all look like 'grey mice', no distinction. Even in  pickup games there was always one player or more that stood out where would everybody would say, 'he's good, look at his skills'. At every level there would always be a couple of players that would stand out like that but we don't have anything. Read some of the comments of our boys on the Olympic squad in how we played. It is awfull and the excuses are 'well we haven't  played long together'. Forget the team aspect  but there is not one player out there where the comments would like ,' look at his skills, he's so much better than other ones"....Playing together as a team and improve the 'automatisme'. I don't know what you would call itin English, but in short is  'the timing between the players ,their ball movement as team will be better. But other than that no one mentions our "indidividuality', our savviness and ball handling capabilities. So in short, it is players like Dest who were born in Holland and grew and develop in Holland that stand out....

  5. beautiful game replied, March 22, 2021 at 12:49 p.m.

    Good points Frank. Barca's defensive alignment breaks down too offend. Dembele for one hardly gives any effort on defense and his decision-making process on the ball is muchy less than expectations dictate in pro-football. The Barca motto of keep possession at all costs tends to eventually put extreme pressure on its keeper to make huge saves. Too often their defensive alignment breaks down because of poor idividual decision-making.

  6. Grant Goodwin replied, March 22, 2021 at 1:03 p.m.

    Frank-First of all, the media is always reactionary.  The second point is:  Dest just turned 20, and you have said in the past the he is not good enough.  However, how many 20 year olds are immediately ready upon joining a typical top 10 team in the world immediately?  There will be growing pains and struggles, but the best in the world would struggle against Mbappe with his pace and style of game.  Every day Dest is getting better, and there will be some bad days and some really good days.  So let's focus on the good days and also give him a season or so to get adjusted to truly see if he is "good enough" to play for Barcelona.   

  7. frank schoon replied, March 22, 2021 at 2:16 p.m.

    Grant, Dest isn't good enough that's why he's going through the growing pains. The only reason why he's there is because of Koeman and that he was on Ajax. I say on Ajax for he didn't play much at all. As a matter of fact, they all had recommended he should have stayed at Ajax for at least two years to learn the ropes ,start and play every game.

    Do you really think without Koeman's presence that Barcelona would have looked at Dest who rarely  started or even played much with the first team of Ajax. Do you really think that a big club like Barcelona, where winning and making money and prizes and along with other high level commitments , would be looking to fill Dani Alves shoes by replacing him with someone who is still learning on the job. At this high level, Barcelona you put interms there but much more experienced players. And let us say they did get Dest by some fluke, he would have first be placed on the Barcelona B team to learn the ropes.... Nobody is his right mind would think of Dest to fill Dani Alves

  8. frank schoon replied, March 22, 2021 at 2:23 p.m.

    BG, you're right. I'm not a fan of Dembele. I don't know why he is on Barcelona, but that is only reflection of their poor management. They have been buying players instead of developing them at La Marcia...They need to get back to the back to the basics again....And that is why I"m optimistic with the new Director La Porta of Barca who was friends with Cruyff and always supported his philosophy.....

  9. Sean Guillory replied, March 23, 2021 at 12:03 a.m.

    Agree with Frank.  I was literally screaming at the TV every time our players just did the same old passes and did not try anything creatively.  They all looked like robots out there.  Dotson is the only one who looked "different".  We don't even have players that want to take players on when it's just a 1 v 1.

  10. Ben Myers, March 22, 2021 at 11:48 a.m.

    Whoops!  I meant Brooks, not Chandler.

  11. Seth Vieux replied, March 22, 2021 at 2:06 p.m.

    Haha, that makes a little more sense :-) I think there's no doubt that all those players you mentioned are squarely in the core of GB's plans, of course along with Pulisic and Adams, and very likely Josh Sargent and Chris Richards.

  12. Kent James, March 22, 2021 at 2:01 p.m.

    The last game against PSG everyone said Dest was just not a high level player, and this week he's the best thing since sliced bread.  A bad game doesn't mean a player is bad, and sometimes results don't reflect the caliber of play.  Dest is a young, high potential player who is showing more of it as he progresses.  He makes mistakes (who doesn't) but his qualities greatly outweigh his deficits.  The US is lucky to have him.

  13. Seth Vieux replied, March 22, 2021 at 2:13 p.m.

    The press lampooning him against PSG was completely unfair. PSG isolated perhaps the best attacker in the world, and certainly the best combination of spped and skill, against him in acres of space over and over, and the winger in front of him (Dembele) provided absolutely zero defensive effort the entire match. No fullback shuts Mbappe down every single time in those situations. Dest has to own his part for sure, but Koeman allowing the tactical advantage repeatedly with no adjustment and not punatively subbing Dembele off that day were far bigger issues.

  14. frank schoon replied, March 22, 2021 at 2:45 p.m.

    Guys , it is not a question of 'fair' or 'unfair', or 'he just happened to play against the best in the world'(that's another discussion).... what kind of excuse is that? We wouldn't have that discussion if we had an experienced player playing right back. It is very simple , Dest isn't good enough, they needed someone to play there who is experienced. I can only imagine how much money Barcelona lost on that deal by losing the Barcelona did in the CL.

    If I ran Barcelona, knowing the financial commitments to make this team play and defend better and REALIZING that Messi is on his last legs, like Pique , and Busquets are, and De Jong and Dembele likewise don't add much to the defense, I would have bolstered the defense with more experience , FIRST.  Definitely I would not have picked Dest because of the situation and at most put him on the B team first....

  15. Seth Vieux replied, March 23, 2021 at 1:57 p.m.

    Frank, if you think Sergi Roberto would have stymied Mbappe on that day you are on something. You think Tagliafico would have have shut him down 1v1 all day with no other players within 20-30 yards? I invite you to share which current RBs who would have been up to that task, there's certainly not many of them. Was brilliant tactics on PSGs side combined with Koeman not correcting it. Is Dest even close to being the best RB in the world? Of course not. Is he at 20 years old perhaps going to be in that conversation within the next few years? Possibly. 

    He starts at RB more than any other player at Barca. He also started a lot at Ajax before his sale. This was likely due to Tagliafico's injury to be sure, but he also showed tons of promise as a teenager, especially in his attacking qualities. Barca were not the only team interested, and they had to outbid Bayern for his services. His individual quality with the ball is exceptional for a RB. He is carrtainly not in the mold of the super reliable RB that offers very little to the attack that remains the standard across soccer.

  16. Bob Ashpole replied, March 23, 2021 at 11:47 p.m.

    Frank, any chance that the coach is bringing Dest along (1st FB, then an advanced WB) as a future winger. He gets him on the field for development purposes and keeps the older players closer to goal?

    I like to say "flanker" is one field position judged by the skill set required. Where specifically any individual "flanker" actually plays depends on who else is available.

    Flanker is a tough and unforgiving position. You are either a world-beater and having a great time or you get beaten up every match. There is no middle ground. It is all 1v1 at that level.

  17. frank schoon replied, March 24, 2021 at 9:42 a.m.

    Bob, there is no chance he'll be a winger. I'm willing to be that he was former winger in his youth but lacks the quickness,due to being a lack of it and therefore they figured he could play back in which not do a bad job of it (relatively speaking). You can see he has wing intentions playing as a back. That's why I say he played as a former winger as a youth, but at a certain level they realize he just missed aspects of being a good wing. And this how Ajax has always picked the backs, ones who were former wingers who therefore could add something to the gam,attacking wise...

    The problem with Dest is that he lacks a real bite as a defender.. And realize when you play for Ajax, from top to bottom(youth) all those teams tend to dominate the play and therefore it is easier to play back. As a matter of fact most of the time the Ajax find themselves in the opponent's half of the field, meaning little defense and all you need is to have speed to cover the space 40 meters behind you....

    Dest has really never been tested until he came to Barca where the competition is fiercer, and now weaknesses are beginning to show. Dani Alves , was once a winger , but the differences is that he is quick and he had BITE. To play as a back you need speed, quickness....I don't see that with Dest. Dest success is really depended upon the success of his teammates. Those two goals he scored were as a result of how his teammates played and how they set him up and likewise he looked bad playing against PSG due to not only Dest's poor defense but also his teammates poor co-defending...

  18. frank schoon, March 23, 2021 at 2:49 p.m.

    Dest does not have the speed as a drawback, that is well known criticism of him in Holland. Realize it is not about speed in stopping a fast player, speed is a last measure. It involves positioning, angles,  space allowed and thinking ahead, other defensive aspects that have nothing to do with speed. Those aspects can only be learned through experience and training, which he lacks.  

    The dream team where Koeman played under Cruyff ,employed Koeman (slow as mollasses, not a defender but an attacker mid) as sweeper. On either side of him he had 2 small sized backs former wingers, and in front of Koeman was Guardiola( no speed, no size, not a defender) ,who played at midfield. This was their defense, a joke, and further they had no height against head ball. But they won the European Cup with this defense. Obviously, their defense was sophisticated a step above the Neanderthal approach of thinking that you need Speed to stop an attack.  It is those elements of that type of defense, Dest lacks. He can learn that but that takes time due to his inexperience. That is why I stated, Barca made a mistake getting him for a team like Barca where there is no room for interns or learning on the job. That's done on the B-team. There is too much at stake as you can imagine the millions Barca lost playing PSG. At this level you need seasoned players then you beging to bring in players like Dest.

    To bring up and compare other players who possibly could do no better is not an argument. At this level you look at experience first. Defense is not a foot race but brains and that is where Dest needs to work on..

  19. Seth Vieux replied, March 23, 2021 at 3:33 p.m.

    When defending as a team your points are all well taken. When placed on an island with no cover within 30 yards against a player who possesses not only speed but very strong 1v1 dribbling ability, speed is indeed required. There is a tactical argument that Koeman should have conceded he did not have an answer for denying this wide space to Mbappe, and just instructed Dest to give it to him completely uncontested and to wait at the edge of the box to be connected to his RCB and 6, but I suggest you watch this game again, as you describe team defending and Dest had no help against probably the most dangerous player in the world for the situations PSG were creating. Even Messi might be less dangerous in these areas. He would of course defeat nearly all defenders 1v1 in that kind of space, but his style of play would be looking to turn the 1v1 win into combination play entering the box, whereas Mbappe went the 'turbo' option with the rest of the Barca defense staring helplessly on.

  20. frank schoon replied, March 23, 2021 at 4:05 p.m.

    Forget the PSG game, Dest all along had problems from the beginning with Barca. But the PSG game really showed his weaknesses and that is to expected for an inexperienced player. And because he is also slower player and likewise not experience in the other aspects I mentioned it became a the perfect storm
    That is why I don't understand why Koeman got Dest. I would not have not gotten Dest for that position but a seasoned pro who can do a much better job and especially now when the team has gotton a little long in the teeth.

  21. frank schoon replied, March 23, 2021 at 4:56 p.m.

    I don't the full on tape but i"m watching a 14min of highlights...

    Note at 1:06 how far Dest is away from Mbappe a good 12 meters to allow him to get the ball and make a run....Should never happen, Dest needed to be right on top of him forcing Mpabbe to have his back downfield. At 3:17-3:23, poor postioning leaving his man on farside wide open and ball watches. Dembele and Pique did a lousy job on defending at3:35. at 4:33 he was positiond wrong in manner that would invite the long ball. Sometimes it is a step or two back or sideways that could make the opponent think twice about passing long...that's weak positioning on Dests part. In that situation that has nothing to with team defense but positioning. Again 5:39 he tends to ball watch too much, thus allowing Mbappe to become more lateral to Dest....Look at 6:13 how far Dest moved up in the opponents half to cover Mbappe and leave all that space behind him and no one to cover that space for Pique is picking another man....That is just wrong positioning.
    At 7:11 ;ook how he turns his body away from the defender with the ball using employing his right leg to stab at ball instead of his left allowing him thereby able to face him. At 8:33 the second PSG goal, again he ball watches to intently allowing Mbappe to score. This goal has nothing to with beating Dest on speed. At 9:28 , Dest is left flatfooted, Mbappe just drags the ball with him. Dest didn't even try to attempt to tackle. Dest should know Mbappe was going along his right side for Pique supported him on his left...

    As far as I'm concerned Dest not beat on speed but poor defensive postioning

  22. Bob Ashpole replied, March 23, 2021 at 11:54 p.m.

    Dest is probably going to develop for another 3-6 years. Tactical speed is something that can be coached, if the player is coachable. The difference between the Messis and the others is that the truly great players never quit learning and improving right up to the day that they retire. The "gifted" athlete who isn't going to work hard to learn and improve, gets a college scholarship and believes that he has "made it", then he gets cut and looses the scholarship when he doesn't grow up.

    Koeman must think that Dest is coachable, and he ought to know.

  23. frank schoon replied, March 24, 2021 at 10:30 a.m.

    Bob, ofcourse Dest is coachable, but there otherwise there are limitations which has to do with speed for example, you either have it or you don't. And don't recommend someone playing back that doesn't have speed. The only thing Dest is able to work on the mental stuff, the positioning that prevent him having to rely on his weakness...That all takes time to learn and Barca is a team that can't afford to place interns there....

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