Getty Images

This could quickly be turning into a lost season for American right back Sergino Dest. The United States men's national team regular has been left out of AC Milan's Champions League squad for the knockout rounds. Dest will be replaced by center back Malick Thiaw. It has already been reported that AC Milan will not exercise their buy option on Dest after the season, which would see him go back to the Barcelona side that lent him out after severely limiting his minutes.. So, despite a strong World Cup things are still going backwards.

Dest has featured in just over 600 minutes of soccer for AC Milan despite their struggles in the league with his last appearance coming in a 4-0 loss to Lazio. He hasn't been good enough defensively to earn a spot in manager Stefano Pioli's regular rotation while this move was supposed to be a lifeline after falling out of favor at Ajax. And as his heat map shows, he's simply much more comfortable being on the ball in attacking positions, a strength which is an awkward fit at Milan.


It sets up a summer of being in limbo for Dest yet again which has to be frustrating. He left a good situation at Ajax for his dream move at Barcelona and was also wanted by Bayern Munich at the time. Fast forward to now and Bayern has gotten Joao Cancelo and if all goes well, they won't be in the market for a right back during the summer.

A move back to Ajax could work but Dest will need to determine the best place for his long term future and that likely isn't the Dutch club. Ajax would be a place to get on his feet while he'd still need another move to grow and establish himself ahead of the 2026 World Cup.

Despite his performances in Qatar, Dest's days as an unquestioned starter for the national team are coming to a close with each top flight game that Joe Scally plays in Germany. Scally could be in for his own big move after good showings for Borussia Monchengladbach. That puts even more pressure on Dest to get things right. 

One club that could be a reasonable fit is Olympique Marseille considering what Nuno Tavares has done there on loan from Arsenal. A club that loves to attack and push their wing backs forward, it could give Dest the freedom that he craves while also providing reps to improve his decision making if he can stay healthy. But wherever he ends up net, Dest is in desperate need of regular playing time week in and week out.

There's no doubting Dest's talent as it has shown in flashes but the summer is a time where he needs to determine what works best for him. He already won't have Champions League play available as a shop window moment, but if he can impress in cameos for AC Milan, plenty of clubs will take a chance to free him from Barcelona. It's now in his court to ensure that it happens.