Inverting the script: Xavi's formula to unleash Sergiño Dest at Barcelona

Sergiño Dest found life at Barcelona to be much more difficult than imagined. However, with Xavi at the helm, the tides may be shifting once more. So what's the secret behind it?

There is this running joke among Barcelona fans that Dani Alves is their best right-back since Dani Alves. Or my personal favourite - Barcelona have finally found their Dani Alves replacement after years and years of searching and his name is… Dani Alves. But the best thing about these jokes is that they’re funny, yes, but also very true. Many have tried replacing the Brazilian over the years and all of them have failed. In comes Sergiño Dest.

To be perfectly honest, however, the now 21-year-old former Ajax talent has struggled since his transfer too. Occasional moments of brilliance were mostly coupled with unconvincing performances and with Xavi’s arrival, the young American looked to be completely out of the squad. However, a switch flipped and now, Dest is back. But what has changed so quickly and drastically?

I’ve been an advocate of Dest the inverted right-back for a very long time and now, we’re finally seeing his true colours in a variation of that role under Xavi. The new Barça coach deploys a system that sees the right-back tuck inside and operate as a false pivot, providing progression and compactness among other things. I’ve explored this new system and its features in a separate analysis on the site so won’t go into detail about it here.