Barcelona have loaned Sergio Dest to PSV in a deal which could become a permanent transfer next summer. Effectively deemed surplus to requirements by Barca boss Xavi, we’ll look at who could replace Sergino Dest at the Catalan club.
To some extent, Dest’s fate at Barcelona was sealed last summer when the club recruited actively with four defensive additions as Jules Kounde, Andreas Christensen, Marcos Alonso and Hector Bellerin all joined the club while academy product Alejandro Balde’s emergence as the first choice left-back was a further blow for the US international’s prospects.
Dest, who is primarily a right-back but can also operate on the left, was loaned out to AC Milan but having made only 2 starts in Serie A, he returned to Barcelona with his stock having fallen further.
With Jordi Alba no longer at the club and with Bellerin’s stint back in the Catalan capital also cut short, Dest’s departure does leave Barca slightly short on full-back options, particularly with Marcos Alonso currently not even registered. Injury problems in central defence resulted in last season’s primary right-back Jules Kounde playing as a centre-back in the weekend win over Cadiz with Frenkie de Jong also dropping into a defensive role.
Top transfer target – Joao Cancelo
Barcelona are finalising a deal to sign Joao Cancelo from Manchester City.
It is expected that the 29-year-old will join Barcelona on loan with an option to buy.
— The Athletic | Football (@TheAthleticFC) August 21, 2023
Barcelona’s search for a new full back already has a clear top target in the shape of Joao Cancelo. The Manchester City man appears to be inching closer to a move to the current Spanish champions on what’s likely to be an initial loan deal with an option to buy, similar to the terms of Dest’s move to PSV.
While it has been a slightly unsettled twelve months for Cancelo following a reported fallout with Pep Guadiola and subsequent loan to Bayern Munich, there can be little doubt that Cancelo’s qualities as an attacking full-back would be an asset to Barcelona and a significant upgrade on what Dest could have provided had he stayed put this summer.
The arrival of Cancelo would leave Barcelona well placed in terms of full-back options and depth. Like Dest, he can operate on the right or the left, although assuming Marcos Alonso stays and is registered, it’s more likely that the Portuguese international would be utilised on his favoured right flank.
Xavi may choose to rotate in the position with Kounde a solid defensive option while Cancelo would be the more attacking choice and be useful in league games where Barca have frequently struggled to break down defensive opponents. Sergi Roberto also remains at the club but may see limited game-time this term, although he’ll still be a versatile back-up player capable of operating in midfield as well as at right back.
Long-term Dest replacement? – Julian Araujo
Julian Araujo in his La Liga debut:
– 45 Minutes 🕦
– 83% Accurate Passes
– 2 Chances Created ⚠️
– 3 Recoveries
– 3 aerial duels won
Not a bad start 💪🏽🇲🇽 pic.twitter.com/lOLwHV48YW
— Futbol Asada (@futbolasada) August 18, 2023
A player with a more similar profile to that of Sergino Dest who could ultimately become a useful squad option is Julian Araujo. Like Dest, he’s a 22 year old right back with Araujo making the move to Barca from LA Galaxy late in the January transfer window of this year. Born in California, Araujo was briefly an international rival of Dest’s but he ultimately opted to represent Mexico and has already been capped 10 times.
Araujo has been loaned out to La Liga new boys Las Palmas for this season, making his debut in his new side’s trip to Valencia on Friday. An impressive campaign in the Canary Islands could see the full-back catapult his way into Xavi’s thinking for the 2024/25 season.
It already seems clear that Araujo has more of a future in Barcelona than Dest has, but much will depend on how successful he is for Las Palmas. Under the guidance of former Barca youth and B team coach Garcia Pimienta, they use a similar possession-based style of football to that of his parent club. Xavi will see it as a good destination for Araujo to develop as he gets his first taste of senior football in a major European league.