Sergino Dest is ready to start from scratch and work his way up at Barcelona following a dismal season-long loan at AC Milan.
After a stuttering two-year start to his Camp Nou career, the 22-year-old United States international moved to Serie A last summer to regain lost confidence and get back on track.
But nothing went his way at San Siro as he spent the second half of the season frozen out of Stefano Pioli’s squad, failing to make a single league appearance for the Rossoneri since January.
Milan understandably refused to take up the buyout option and sent the defender back to Barcelona to try and repay a €21 million transfer fee.
Xavi Hernandez has vowed to give all unsettled players a chance to prove their worth during the off-season, and Dest is determined to earn his trust.
“I see myself staying at Barca,” he told The Athletic. “I have to prove myself.
“I’m fully focused on myself at the moment. It’s up to me. I feel like I can do it.
“My mindset is to stay here and to have a really nice season with Barca.”
Dest’s hope of re-establishing himself at Barcelona isn’t unfounded.
The reigning La Liga champions are in the market for a new right-back after deploying Jules Kounde, a natural centre-back, as a makeshift external defender last season.
Kounde’s switch to the right-back position proved an utter success as Barcelona conquered the league thanks to their steely backline that conceded as low as 20 goals.
However, the Frenchman has informed Xavi of his ambition to return to his natural spot, creating an urge for a new right-back, especially with Julian Araujo moving to Las Palmas on loan.
Dest could be looking to follow the example of Alejandro Balde, who impressed Xavi during last summer’s pre-season to leapfrog long-serving stalwart Jordi Alba in the pecking order.
With Barcelona yet to find an alternative in the market, the versatile US defender has a perfect opportunity to revive his career at Camp Nou.