The United States international spent one season at Barca alongside Messi after joining from Ajax last season. Dest said he enjoyed his time with Barca legend, who is widely regarded as one of the best players in football history.
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"He's the best player in the world. It was a shock for everyone -- we wish he could have stayed. Unfortunately, he couldn't.
"At the training ground and on the pitch, you see unbelievable things. You see how he scores those goals. What you see on the pitch is the same, even when you're that close. It's unbelievable to see him like that.
"We all have him in our hearts. It's Messi. It just feels weird because he played for so long at this club, almost his whole life, and suddenly he had to leave. But we have to focus on the new season.
"We've got some work to do because with Messi it is easier, he's the best player in the world. But I think if we play collectively and keep the chemistry high, we can achieve a lot."
Barca will play their first competitive match since Messi's departure when they kick off their 2021-22 LaLiga campaign against Real Sociedad on Sunday.