Chelsea and Barcelona used to meet quite often on the pitch for some fierce Champions League clashes. As the clubs now trend in opposite directions, they aren’t going to see a lot of one another until the Blaugrana figure out their financial situation and get back on their feet. Nevertheless, it seems the two are still connected via off-the-pitch discussions about personnel. The Catalan club displayed interest in a couple of Blues before securing the services of Manchester City winger Ferran Torres. Now it’s Chelsea’s turn to return said interest.
The Blues have been linked with a number of Barcelona players over the last couple of weeks. The most obvious connection to make involves Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel and soon-to-be free agent Ousmane Dembele, both formerly of Dortmund. However, Marina Granovskaia and Co. are too preoccupied at this moment in time to focus on any attacking incoming transfers. The main priority has now shifted following the injuries to Ben Chilwell and Reece James. The Blues are searching for wingbacks and Barcelona’s Sergino Dest could be the answer to all of their problems.
Chelsea should pursue Barcelona right back Sergino Dest in the January window
Dest currently plays as a right back for Barcelona and although he has little experience playing as a wingback throughout his career, he’s got the qualities needed to succeed in the role. The American international is very much a winger turned fullback by the teams in which he’s played for over the years. This may sound scary to Chelsea fans, but there are plenty examples of this transition succeeding in the past. The most recent being Bayern Munich‘s Alphonso Davies. The Blues have experimented with a number of wingers—namely Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic—in both wingback roles this season. The difference is Dest has years of experience as a defender. Dest has played 107 of his 162 professional games for Ajax and Barcelona as a fullback. Comparatively, Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic have combined for just 24 outings at wingback in their 404 career appearances, according to the same source.
No matter the 21-year-old’s natural position, the splits show he’s undeniably a fullback at this point in his career. His defensive statistics may look poor overall—he ranks in the bottom 35 percent amongst fullbacks for tackles, interceptions, blocks, clearances and aerials won—but there are some real positives hidden within the same table that highlight his potential under the German manager. Dest is excellent at pressing opponents and his attacking statistics fly off the page, as well. Chelsea’s already got sound defensive fullbacks in Marcos Alonso and Cesar Azpilicueta, in Dest it would be buying an individual with limitless attacking potential and a more technical defensive skillset than Hudson-Odoi or Pulisic.
Perhaps the best part of the pursuit of Dest is his availability. The youngster has already been relegated to the bench by Xavi at Barcelona, who prefers to suck up to his old teammate Dani Alves instead. This means the Blues would be able to work a favorable deal out of the Blaugrana. Matt Law reported on Thursday that Barcelona would be willing to send Dest to Chelsea on a loan in order to get looks toward a future sale of the fullback. Furthermore, Xavi’s already displayed he prefers other options to the American, so the Blues would seemingly have all of the leverage. A loan would mean Chelsea does not have to commit long-term and the remainder of the season can be seen as a trial period for the former Ajax defender at Stamford Bridge.
Dest also offers flexibility. He would be brought in primarily as a right wingback but he would by no means be limited to that role. As briefly mentioned earlier, Dest is naturally a winger. He can serve as an emergency attacker in some situations. Tuchel has recently lined his side up in a back four, as well, so should this trend continue, Dest can play fullback too. In addition, United States manager Gregg Berhalter prefers to use his young star on the left when in the international side. Therefore, Dest can deputize both Alonso and Azpilicueta during Chilwell and James’ absences. His inclusion in the team kills two big birds with one cheap stone.
This transfer may not look too appealing in the grand scheme of things if one isolates his defensive statistics. However, it’s hard not to get excited about the prospect of Dest linking up with the reigning European Champions under Tuchel when one considers the circumstances, his upside and his flexibility. It’s another low-risk, high-reward potential transfer that would allow Chelsea to test the waters before committing long-term and it could solve two massive issues.
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