Eleven months after choosing to represent the U.S. over the Netherlands, teenage fullback Sergiño Dest appears to be in the middle of another significant tug of war: Bayern Munich or Barcelona.
The two European powerhouses are reportedly battling to sign the 19-year-old U.S. men's national team defender from Ajax, with Champions League– and treble-winning Bayern said to be in the driver's seat. According to Dutch outlet De Telegraaf, Bayern directors traveled to Amsterdam to meet with Ajax officials, with the club renewing interest it showed in January. The Guardian and Sky Sports transfer guru Fabrizio Romano reports that timing is of the essence for Bayern, with Barcelona currently hamstrung by needing to sell off other players before it can make an official offer. It's the same situation the club is facing regarding its interest in Memphis Depay, with Luis Suarez's potential move to Juventus reported to be holding things up.
Either club presents a unique opportunity for the Netherlands-born Dest, who came up through Ajax's famed youth system. There's a level of familiarity with Barcelona for Dest, given that Barça coach Ronald Koeman tried to convince him to represent the Netherlands internationally instead of the U.S. when he was overseeing the Oranje. Barcelona and Ajax's ties have historically run deep. Should Barcelona sell Nelson Semedo, the starting right back position could be Dest's for the taking.
Bayern, meanwhile, has shown it has no problem turning the keys over to a Concacaf-based teenager after Canadian Alphonso Davies's meteoric rise to become Bayern's regular left back and a fixture in its plans for the future. It's true Bayern has French World Cup winner Benjamin Pavard and Joshua Kimmich, who could both deputize at right back, but the club reportedly has a preference to have Kimmich's chief role be as a central midfielder and Pavard's to be as a center back, which would conceivably open up the fullback spot opposite Davies. Dest, like Davies, was recently named to a 40-person short list for the Golden Boy award, an annual honor voted on by European media and presented by Italian outlet Tuttosport to the best player in Europe under the age of 21.
A third power, PSG, had previously been linked to Dest, but it would appear that any interest the club had cooled after its signing of veteran Italian right back Alessandro Florenzi. Juan Bernat's torn ACL and Layvin Kurzawa's six-game suspension after the PSG-Marseille altercation over the weekend makes for a sudden immediate need at left back, and while Dest is capable of playing on the left—and has for the U.S.—the situations at Barcelona and Bayern would figure to be more alluring in both the short- and long-term.
Dest is under contract with Ajax through 2022, so the Eredivisie power is not necessarily compelled to sell, though if the player prefers to go, there may not be a better to cash in on his value. The transfer window remains open until Oct. 5.