MILAN – Sergiño Dest is set to become the first American to play for AC Milan in Serie A after the Italian champion signed the defender on loan from Barcelona on Thursday, shortly before the transfer window shut.
Milan also has the right to buy the U.S. international at the end of the season-long loan deal, with the fee reportedly fixed at 20 million euros ($19.9 million).
The move comes a day after AC Milan's ownership transferred from one American entity to another, as RedBird Capital Partners completed a deal to purchase a controlling interest in the seven-time European champion for 1.2 billion euros ($1.2 billion) from Elliott Management. The deal includes a minority stake in Milan for the New York Yankees.
The 21-year-old Dest, who only flew into Milan on the morning of transfer deadline day, could face a tough debut as the Rossoneri’s next match is Saturday’s derby against city rival Inter Milan.
The only previous American player Milan has signed was Oguchi Onyewu, in 2009. The former U.S. defender had an eighteen-month spell at Milan but only made one Champions League appearance before being sidelined for almost a year with injury and then leaving the club, shortly after a training ground spat with teammate Zlatan Ibrahimović.
Dest has a Surinamese-American father and Dutch mother and chose to play for the United States instead of the Netherlands, where he was born and raised. He has scored two goals in 17 matches for the national team.
Dest started his career at Ajax before moving to Barcelona two years ago for a fee of 21 million euros (then $24.7 million), going on to make 72 appearances and netting three goals.
Dest never fully met expectations at Barcelona and couldn’t establish himself as a regular starter. He had plenty of minutes in his first season, under coach Ronald Koeman, but then his playing time gradually decreased. He had chances under coach Xavi Hernández during the Europa League last season but again couldn’t take advantage of them. He had not made any appearances this season other than in friendlies.
Dest’s signing continues Milan’s policy of sticking with the blend of youth and experience that helped to end its lengthy wait for the Serie A title. Most of the players it has signed this summer have been 21 or under.
The Rossoneri also signed teenage midfielder Aster Vranckx from Wolfsburg on loan on deadline day.
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