MILAN (AP) — American defender Sergiño Dest joined Italian champions AC Milan in hopes of getting more playing time for the World Cup.
He got off to a slow start.
“American Horror Story, 45-minute episode,” was how Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport described Dest’s Serie A debut, giving him a five out of 10 for his performance in Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Napoli. . Other newspapers called it “a catastrophe” or just “bad.”
Dest, who was loaned out from Barcelona on the day of the transfer deadline, played in both group matches of the Champions League in Milan, but made his first appearance in the Italian league when he came on at halftime for Davide Calabria against Napoli.
He struggled from the start, conceding the penalty after less than 10 minutes that led to the opening goal – and Milan’s first defeat of the season – when he made a mistake on speedy Napoli winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.
“Dest is a good player. Just like Kvaratskhelia,” said Milan coach Stefano Pioli. “Calabria also struggled against the Georgian.”
21-year-old 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 scored two goals in 17 appearances for the national team.
Dest started his career with Ajax before moving to Barcelona two years ago for 21 million euros (then $24.7 million), but he was unable to establish himself as a regular starter.
In his first season with Barcelona under coach Ronald Koeman, he had plenty of playing minutes, but after that his playing time gradually decreased. He nevertheless had opportunities in the Europa League last season under coach Xavi Hernández, but was unable to take advantage of them either.
And Dest knew that with the World Cup approaching in November, he needed a permanent place in a team.
American coach Gregg Berhalter plans to announce his World Cup squad on November 9, five days before the deadline to submit it to FIFA.
Dest is a first-choice right-back for the US team as well as a left-back backup to Antonee Robinson.
If he’s healthy, Dest looks almost guaranteed to start against Wales in the Americans’ opening game on November 21 – DeAndre Yedlin, Reggie Cannon, Joe Scally are big drop-offs in comparison – but he’ll want to take some form with him to Qatar .
WAITING FOR REUS
Germany faces an anxious wait to see if Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus will be ready in time for the World Cup after a serious-looking ankle injury in Saturday’s Ruhr derby.
Dortmund said the 33-year-old Reus will miss three to four weeks due to a ligament injury in his right ankle. It seems an optimistic assessment from a club that has helped players recover from injuries too quickly in the past – US midfielder Gio Reyna suffered repeated setbacks last season.
Reus has only played 48 games for Germany. He missed the team’s winning World Cup run in 2014 with an ankle injury and Euro 2016 with a groin injury. He played in the 2018 World Cup but skipped the next European Championship to recover after his season with Dortmund.
Germany coach Hansi Flick called on Leipzig defender Benjamin Henrichs as a replacement for the upcoming games against Hungary and England.
THE TOMÁS’ ORDER DEAL
Spanish striker Raul de Tomás thought his chances of making it to the World Cup were certainly over when his transfer from Espanyol to Rayo Vallecano was not completed in time.
Due to the delay, he will not be able to play in the league again until January.
But there was a glimmer of hope for 27-year-old de Tomás after Spanish coach Luis Enrique spoke out about his situation last week. The coach has not added the player to his latest list for upcoming Nations League matches, but also did not exclude him from the tournament in Qatar.
“Every case is different,” said Luis Enrique. “Raúl de Tomás was recently called up. It’s a completely unusual situation. You don’t always see a player who can’t sign for a team at the last minute and has to be sidelined for a few months. We won’t be able to see him play, but I don’t know, we’ll see. It’s hard, but I can’t say either one at the moment.”
De Tomás, who has blamed Espanyol for not making the deal with Rayo Vallecano, has made four appearances with the Spanish national team, including two this year.
Union Berlin forward Jordan Pefok has not given up playing for the United States at the World Cup, despite his omission from coach Gregg Berhalter’s 26-man roster for warm-up matches against Japan and Saudi Arabia.
Pefok scored the opening goal on Sunday in a 2-0 win over Wolfsburg and helped Union to first place in the Bundesliga.
“Who doesn’t hope to play in the World Cup if their country is qualified?” the French-speaking Pefok asked after the game.
“The trainer decides. Me, I play the games with luck, I keep trying to do my best,” said Pefok. “Afterwards, as we say in France, we pay the musicians at the end of the ball.”
AP Sports Writers Ciarán Fahey in Berlin and Tales Azzoni in Madrid contributed to this report.
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