After being omitted from the Barcelona squad in all of their matches to begin the season, Sergino Dest has moved to Italian champions AC Milan. The legendary club reached a deal for a one-year loan with an option to buy, announcing the move on Deadline Day. If the option is triggered, Dest would sign a four-year deal with the club, and the non-mandatory buy option is around €20 million, according to CBS Sports soccer insider Fabrizio Romano. He is the second American to join Milan after Oguchi Onyewu.
“I’m so proud and excited to join the champions of Italy and such a historic club! Forza Milan,” Dest wrote on Twitter after the move was announced.
AC Milan to chased a splash signing that is a win-win for the club and player. While Dest was content to stay at Barcelona and fight for his place, with an opportunity appearing to get regular playing time in Serie A, it is one worth taking ahead of the World Cup in November to be in the best of form.
With Alessandro Florenzi out at least eight weeks due to a muscular injury suffered in the team’s draw versus Sassuolo on Tuesday, playing time could come early for Dest. A strong ball carrier, Dest fits in with AC Milan’s high-octane attack, but he’ll need to be more disciplined defensively in Serie A. If he’s able to improve his one-on-one defending, there’s no reason why Dest can’t become the long-term starter over Florenzi at only 21 years old.
Covered by Simon Kjaer, Dest will have a strong defensive presence next to him as the team has cover to let him dribble and overlap with Alexis Saelemaekers. It’s an exciting move for Dest to show what he does well after falling out of favor under Xavi at Barcelona.
For the USMNT, Dest playing anywhere would have been optimal but this is a better move for his playing style than a move to Manchester United, who were also linked to the American. Dest will get to move to the reigning Scudetto winners while also playing in the Champions League this season. Due to loan obligations, he likely won’t get to face Barcelona if they meet in the knockout stages.
Since Barcelona’s directors had to offer a financial guarantee that the team would become compliant with La Liga’s salary cap to register Jules Kounde, moving Dest’s salary off the books will help their current financial situation.
It has been a busy few days for AC Milan as the takeover of the club was completed that included American-based RedBird Capital and the New York Yankees. RedBird also has a stake in Fenway Sports Group which owns the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool. The deal was agreed to over the summer but finally completed Tuesday.