The Mexican midfielder has been frozen out at Barcelona, but his stubborn refusal to seek playing time elsewhere could stall his promising career.
For Jonathan Dos Santos, that’s got to be the explanation for all this. For two years, Gio’s younger brother has made all the wrong moves, and now a promising career hangs in the balance.
By refusing to take a loan deal with a good Sevilla team, insisting instead on staying around at Barcelona where he’s not wanted, Jonathan dos Santos has waylaid his own career. The sooner he rectifies the situation the better.
By all rights, the 22-year-old should be a regular part of the Mexican national team setup by now. Dos Santos already has the quality, field vision and ability to be a regular for El Tri.
Nearly every time he’s taken the field for Mexico in an exhibition match, he’s done special things, often making crossbars ring, and distributing beautifully out of a central midfield spot. The younger Dos Santos brother could even be said to have been hard done by in 2010, when Javier Aguirre made him the last cut from the team headed to South Africa.
He fits in well with what El Tri wants to do in the central midfield - hold down the middle of the pitch while attacking with flair and creativity, while distributing to the attacking options out wide and up top.
Now is a good time for the emergence of a player like Dos Santos, with perennial stars Carlos Salcido and Gerardo Torrado aging and ready to pass the defensive mid torch. Even with the emergence of other great young central midfielders such as Jorge Enriquez and Jesus Zavala, a spot on El Tri would seem to be there for the taking for the talented Barcelona product.
But as it turns out, that label is just the problem. Jona longs above all else to be a Barcelona lifer, and at this point, it’s just not happening. The downside of the unrivaled preparation that comes with a youth career at La Masia is the competition that arrives when trying to break into the first team.
JDS is right there on the edge, but he’s not quite good enough - at least not yet. That doesn’t mean he’s a failure, it means he’s a great player; just not better than the best in the world at his spot.
The logical conclusion is that he needs to get more experience, which would mean finding playing time. Instead Dos Santos - and this where his advisors come in - has stayed put in Barcelona, despite the coach telling him explicitly that he’s not going to play.
This is not an established Javier Hernandez sticking around at Manchester, fighting for playing time with a coach who says he wants him around. This is a player insisting on hanging around to convince a coach who says he’s not going to be selected, and even calls the whole situation lamentable.
More lamentable still is what this has done to Dos Santos’ budding career with El Tri. Hard feelings over the 2010 snub aside, the player had an immediate future with the full team this cycle, but seems to have given it up through stubbornness.
Apart from being overtaken by Enriquez and Zavala, the equally ill-advised decision to skip the Olympics to try to convince Tito Vilanova that he belonged at Barca now has served Dos Santos for absolutely nothing, except to prove to the coach that the Mexican isn’t someone he needs around.
We’ve argued before here that Dos Santos would have been much better served by going to the Olympics, performing well, and raising general interest, than by sticking around in Barcelona trying to convince a coach who’s known him for years of something that coach has also known for years - Dos Santos is not good enough yet to make an impact in the best team in the world.
Now, what’s left is to pick up the pieces. Surely, Barcelona won’t keep him around on the bench forever, no matter how stubborn the younger Dos Santos is. The good news is that there’s no shortage of teams interested in Barcelona castoffs.
If JDS acts quickly, in the winter transfer window hopefully, some interest could perhaps still be rekindled on the part of Sevilla, a great team that wanted him. If not, some other La Liga club should be in need, or else a team in Italy or Turkey -- or wherever Dos Santos can get a game.
Because that’s what he needs right now, for his own good and that of El Tri. Twenty-two is no longer young in soccer terms. Keeping the Barcelona dream alive must become secondary at this point. Let’s hope Dos Santos’ advisors figure that much out, before a great career is setback irredeemably.
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