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Ajax's Van Der Sar Weighs Aspects of Sergiño Dest's USA-Netherlands Decision

Ajax's CEO has a front-row seat for the 18-year-old Dutch-American's international choice.
Sergino Dest decides between USA and Netherlands

Sergiño Dest has the attention of two very interested federations, and his club's CEO has weighed in on the 18-year-old fullback's international decision.

Speaking on Planet Fútbol TV this week, Ajax chief executive and former Man United goalkeeping great Edwin van der Sar weighed in on Dest and his choice, which is expected to be made before the November FIFA international window.

Dest was born in the Netherlands to a Surinamese-American father and Dutch mother, and he's been a part of Ajax's academy since 2012. He has represented the USA at the U-17 and U-20 World Cups, and it was only recently that the Dutch federation reached out to him about potentially filing a one-time FIFA switch and representing his birth nation.

Van der Sar said that Ajax has no preference on the decision, spelling out the reasons why either one will work for the club.

"That's the million dollar question," Van der Sar said. "I think for the States, they picked up his talent before, at 16, 17 he got an invitation to play for the national team in the U.S. Because he played in the first team (at Ajax), the Dutch team is knocking on his door. I think for him it's important to take a step back, now to have a little rest, because we played so many games, the attention and everything. Hopefully he makes the right decision.

"I spoke last week with him after the Valencia match. I think he's still undecided."

Van der Sar indicated that his choice benefits Ajax either way: from a marketing perspective, where the club, which has a New York office, could make more headway in the U.S. with a featured national team talent, or from a sporting perspective, where fewer transatlantic flights would be necessary should he remain in the Netherlands and play with some of his club teammates internationally.

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"From a commercial perspective, as a marketing director when I started, to unlock markets you need players–America would be the destination for him," Van der Sar said. "My football director, Mark Overmars, he would rather that he choose for Holland. Less travel time, that kind of thing. But it's all (up) to him. I think he has wise people around him, a good agent and a family,

"Hopefully for you guys [the USA], you will see him more often. For us it doesn't really matter. It's whatever Sergiño wants."

(You can watch the entirety of Van der Sar's interview on this week's Planet Fútbol TV starting at the 12:12 mark here.)

Dest's rise has been an impressive one. He took advantage of opportunities this summer to show out in front of manager Erik ten Hag, and he earned first-team chances as a result. He's made seven appearances (five starts) in the Eredivisie so far this season, while also starting in three of his five Champions League appearances, which include the playoff qualifying rounds. He also started in the Dutch Super Cup match vs. PSV.

"This summer there was Copa America, there was African Cup, we had some players injured, so he was taken with the first team to the training camp in Austria and he did extremely well," Van der Sar explained.

"From the start, he left a great impression. That's how it goes at Ajax: if you're good enough, you're playing, it doesn't matter your age or your experience. So the coach doesn't have any hesitation to throw him into the Champions League matches. He has pace, he has skills, has determination and that makes him a great player."

To which national team he will bring those qualities remains to be seen.