US defender Dest joins AC Milan as he looks ahead to the World Cup

United States defender Sergiño Dest is hoping to get more playing time ahead of this year’s World Cup in Qatar after joining Serie A champions AC Milan on transfer deadline day.

Milan also have the right to buy Dest from Barcelona at the end of the season’s loan deal, with the fee reportedly set at €20m ($19.9m).

“I need minutes for the World Cup. i have to play Not just for the World Cup, I just always want to play.” Dest said in an interview with Milan TV on Friday. “They (Milan) have given me a great opportunity. So I didn’t even think twice about it. I thought: I have to do it. I want to play. So it was an easy decision.”

Dest started his career at Ajax before joining Barcelona for €21m ($24.7m at the time) two years ago, but he never quite lived up to expectations and failed to establish himself as a regular.

He had plenty of minutes in his first season but then his playing time began to dwindle and 21-year-old Dest knew he had to have a regular spot on a team with the World Cup looming in November.

Dest has a Surinamese American father and Dutch mother and chose to play for the United States over the Netherlands, where he was born and raised. He has scored two goals in 17 games for the national team.

“Actually, everything went very quickly, like in one day,” said Dest about the move to Milan. “I had to make a decision very quickly, change my life, go to another club, another country, another culture.

“I love this club. It’s a club I wanted to play for when I was younger. I think it’s a nice step for me, a good chance to play again. I am really happy and honored to play for this club and I will do my best.”

Dest, who is a quick defender, originally started as a winger at Ajax youth academy before moving to full-back.

“It was a good decision to play at full-back because my qualities came out even more,” he said. “Because I could go forward, I could defend. I have stamina so I can run up and down.

“That was the best position and is the best position for me, right and left back. Simply the best decision in professional football.”

Dest could be in for a tough debut. The Rossoneri’s next game on Saturday is the derby against city rivals Inter Milan.

Milan finished ahead of second-placed Inter last season to secure their first title in 11 years, but the positions were reversed the previous season.

“It’s another league again and it’s going to be a tough league. Some good opponents. We have good competitors,” said Dest.

He then pointed to the center of his chest where a badge of the Italian flag sits on the Milan shirt – a mark of the reigning Serie A champions.

“We have the badge in the middle,” Dest said, “so we need to keep it and make sure we still have it on our shirts next year.”


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