The year just keeps getting better and better for 18-year old American-Dutch fullback Sergiño Dest who has signed a contract extension with De Godenzonen till 2022, a year after signing his first professional contract with the club and three days after being officially given first-team status at Ajax by manager, Erik ten Haag.

Dest has been compared to Brazilian fullbacks Dani Alves and Marcelo, two of the best modern fullbacks in modern football, who the teenager has claimed to model his game on. But his offensive instincts come from his career as a winger with boyhood club Almere City – and they have been kept sharp by occasional outings on the outside of a front three as he has progressed through the youth ranks at Ajax.

Brian Tevreden, the man who scouted Dest for Ajax and oversaw the youngster’s development in Amsterdam at under-14 level, said of his transition into a right-back:

“He came in as a right-winger, but after six months, for a tournament, there was a problem at right-back, so I asked him to play there.” “What I like about him is he is not panicking when he is under pressure, which is what you see with a lot of defenders who are not comfortable on the ball. He will pass by them or dribble by them. The pass in between the lines, he does very well.”

Dest is a fullback with 360-degree range of movement. This means he creates a zone around him when on the ball despite him spending most of a match out wide. This also helps him with his passing as he is able to spot a pass and start a counterattack out of nothing as long as there’s a player available for the break. He has explosive pace which makes him a threat on counter-attacks, and is not afraid to invert his runs and attempt a shot. His work rate is also very impressive. Of the two who he models his game on, he is more similar to Dani Alves than Marcelo in defence as he has amazing anticipation and an uncanny ability to chase down opponents and passes and intercept them. Unlike both, however, he is positionally disciplined and has rarely been chastised for neglecting his defensive duties. This could be down to him not getting as much offensive duties as the Brazilian fullbacks in question.

He has already started three out of the four opening Eredivisie games for Ajax and is looking like ten Haag’s preferred choice at right-back and will definitely have a healthy competition with 21-year old Noussair Mazraoui for a starting spot.

The fullback is just returning from international duty with the US men’s national team (he is still available for Netherlands selection because he hasn’t debuted in any official matches) and has been talked up by media in the US and by top players in the US football environment. Former US under-20 assistant coach Dave Van den Bergh has credited Dest’s rapid rise through the ranks with Ajax to his work ethic and maturity.

Ajax fans are in for a season of promise.