With Barça needing a right-back to fill in the likely departure of Semedo, Ajax’s Sergiño Dest seems an appealing option in terms of cost and potential. But is he ready to have a place in the first team squad?
Anticipate. This may be a key word – and, most importantly, a key action – for all clubs in the post-pandemic market. Thankfully or not, a player’s value is not something stable. It fluctuates. One day it skyrockets, another day it sinks. Performances, age, time or a simple game can change the worth of a footballer, and therefore the attention it attracts. Obviously, getting the best value for money is something every person or institution, inside or outside football, dreams of. But it’s not easy.
In sport, maturity and experience can do a lot to modify someone’s quality. Therefore, it’s when they are in their prime that athletes are most valuable. Yet, while talent must be developed, it can also be spotted. A teenager can have an outstanding raw material, which is just waiting to be taught. As a consequence, youth can be highly profitable, as it has a long trajectory ahead to learn and shape its path. Youngsters often do not cost as much as when they reach the age of 27 or 28, but they already have the potential which is simply looking to be unlocked.
Once a teenager enters into its turning point, it can go from costing a very affordable price to being truly expensive and in-demand within months. As mentioned, with the upcoming financial crisis, anticipation will be crucial for clubs to pay less for a footballer than what they could cost in a few years. If big teams want to save money, they will need to spot those bargains before they have an unaffordable cost.
To the question Is €20 million expensive? there’s only one right answer: it depends. It depends on the needs of the parties involved, it depends on the situation, it depends on the current quality as well as the age and ceiling of the player. Many factors come into play to determine whether a price is worth paying or not. Apparently not many will be interested in paying €20 million for a proven midfielder like Iván Rakitić who has won everything at club level, yet €20m could instead turn out to be a bargain for someone that has only registered 20 appearances in the top flight in Sergiño Dest.
❛ He’s almost one of those Brazilian outside-backs who can hurt you, because, at times, they’re almost like a number 10 – they have that kind of skill. His strength is his unpredictability when he attacks ❜
US U20 head coach
If Ajax’s Dest lives up to his full potential, it is undeniable that €20 million will indeed be a bargain. A precocious talent at only 19 years of age, Erik ten Hag instantly fell in love with him when he took him to the first team preseason despite having been expected to spend an extra year with the reserves. The Dutch-born American international has even been preferred over Mazraoui at right-back for fixtures as crucial as against Chelsea or Valencia. In spite of his small stature, Sergiño’s personality is enormous. He’s unafraid, regardless of the age and physique of his opponents, and has the ability and expertise to thrive in tight spaces when pressed.
A privileged technique to dribble and pass, he feels extremely comfortable with the ball at his feet. Agile and extremely imaginative, he is as offensive as a winger but does have the imagination to come inside of an attacking midfielder too. His boldness, confidence, skill and playmaking qualities make him fit perfectly into the mould of the modern full-back. There are certainly things he needs to improve, no doubt. Particularly in defence, where he leaves many spaces behind and isn’t the most reliable marker. Nevertheless, again, he’s only 19 years old and has more than enough time to polish his mistakes.
❛ Ninety-nine out of 100 times he pulls it off. And we don’t want to take that out of his game; I think that’s what sets him apart ❜
Dave van den Bergh
former US U20 assistant coach
on Dest’s expressive style of trying to dribble from his own half
But the timing is important too. No one wants to rush a gem, nor be too late in catching him. Finding the optimal time can be decisive. The best way in which Dest can work on his weaknesses is with minutes. And the ones who can guarantee him that right now are Ajax. Not Barça. Admittedly, it may be too soon for Sergiño to make the leap to a giant like Barcelona or Bayern. He would have to take up too many responsibilities, pressure could hinder his development, and a potential lack of minutes could be harmful as well. Improving and reducing his errors could best be achieved with playtime week in, week out in the Eredivisie, added to the European competitions too.
But then, sometimes processes can be accelerated by desperate necessity. With Semedo on his way out, Barça will strongly need a right-back. Preferably, a young one, as well as one that has the right profile and skillset to challenge Sergi Roberto for the starting spot. Sergiño Dest undoubtedly has the potential and tools, but possibly is not prepared to be a starter at a club like Barcelona yet. Maybe as a back-up he could do, but he would need to be given enough minutes anyway.
Sergiño Dest has already attracted interest from Barça and Bayern, and many more may join the list if the blaugranas keep waiting | Photo by Maurice van Steen via Imago
In any case, despite his flaws, €20 or even 30 million seems too cheap to let go Dest considering what he could become one day. The risk will be much lower than if they wait for longer until he costs more and more sides are interested. Purchasing him now seems the best option, even economically. However, then factors such as Semedo’s departure and Sergiño’s performance in a potential preseason in the summer could be decisive to judge whether Barça should keep him permanently or send him out on loan. Who knows: maybe, like Ten Hag in 2019, Quique Setién becomes impressed by Dest if he sees him in action with the big boys in preseason.
Five players that Barcelona could off-load in order to sign Erling Haaland
In Catalonia, many news outlets are reporting that President-elect Joan Laporta is keen to bring the Norwegian sensation, Erling Braut Haaland, to Barcelona. Laporta’s excellent ties with Haaland’s agent Mino Raiola are known throughout the footballing fraternity. He is keen to use this cordial relationship to bring probably one of the most talented young centre-forwards to Camp Nou.
Haaland’s Contract situation
There have been many rumours about Haaland’s contract and his release clause. It’s said that Dortmund have let in known privately that Haaland’s contract includes a release clause of €75 Million. However, this is valid only from 2022; if any club wishes to sign him before, they need to open talks with Borussia Dortmund and his agent Mino Raiola.
With all said, it looks certain that almost every big club in the world will be looking to land this deal which is rumoured to cost €110 Million. Barcelona’s precarious financial situation means that Laporta and his team needs to make a decision to make some big sales in order to complete the dream of signing Haaland. We take a look at 5 players that Barca can sell in order to get the required funds.
The market value of the Brazilian currently stands around €47 Million. After his very successful loan spell at Bayern Munich, he publicly stated that he was determined to make it big at Barcelona. Ronald Koeman also said that he admires the qualities Coutinho has and would be an integral part of his project. However, six months into the season, it seems that the Brazilian has gone out of favour at the club. The emergence of Pedri and Moriba also doesn’t help his case. It has been reported that if Coutinho plays 100 matches for the Blaugranes, the club will need to pay an additional €20 Million to Liverpool.
Given the fact that Barcelona have many parasitic clauses in the contract with former Liverpool player, it’s very doubtful that any club would be willing to offer what his market value is. A long term injury which has forced him out for a big chunk of the season will also play a part in deciding the transfer sum the Catalan club can get in the transaction.
The French forward has not been able to fit perfectly in the system Barcelona plays, he has produced some good performances in the new year, but lacks the ability to move the ball quickly and take on defenders. Former Barca legend, Hristo Stoichkov, had some very harsh words for Griezzy, “Whenever Griezmann is on the pitch, Barcelona play with ten players. If they want to do something in the long term, they have to sell him. Trincao and Braithwaite must be on the team. What is Griezmann doing there?”, said the Bulgarian to Marca.
Griezmann is currently valued at €58 Million, given his wonderful finishing and relentless work off the ball, many big clubs might be interested in getting his services. The French forward will turn 30 this month, a number many clubs will be looking at very closely while making their decision to sign him.
The Danish forward, without any doubt, is a very hardworking player and has improved on various skills of forward play in his time at Barcelona. With that said, it’s a no brainer to realise the fact that he cannot be Barcelona’s only No.9. Many PL clubs from the bottom half are rumoured to be fond of the former Leganes man. With Barcelona targeting Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay, the danish would certainly become a fringe player and the club will be open to hearing offers for him.
The Dominican Republic fullback was brought in with the motive to give Jordi Alba some competition at the left-back spot. Under all the three managers Barcelona has had during his tenure at the club did not play him much. Barcelona were open to selling him in the January window itself with Inter Milan in the pole position to acquire his services. However, due to some personal reasons, the move was stalled and Junior ended up staying for the remainder of the season.
The Bosnian midfielder was part of what one can say the worst deal that Barcelona has ever made. It’s a relatively known fact that Pjanic was a part of the deal which was meant to ‘balance the books’ by the Bartomeu administration. The former Juventus man has failed to add anything new to the squad and has been out of favour for a long time now. A deal that would see him go to some other big club in Europe would benefit both parties.
The Twist: Leo Messi
After the very unfortunate leaking of Messi’s contract, the entire world is aware of the astronomical contract he has. If the Argentine wizard decides to leave eventually at the end of the season, the club will surely free a very big amount from the wage bill which can be used to make some necessary additions to this squad.
It remains to be seen how things will pan out in the coming summer, but one thing is for sure that Barcelona needs to clear a lot of their squad depth in order to realize the dream to bring the Haaland to Camp Nou.
Jorge Messi will travel to Barcelona on Monday to listen to Barça’s offer, where they will offer him a renewal for another 3 years.— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) March 13, 2021
— TNT pic.twitter.com/ld93SO6JKV
A thing that can be said with certainty is that Laporta is keen to make the signing of Haaland a reality, and come July, Barca will be into the most important transfer window of their history which will shape the future of the club for many years to come.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com