For the first time in his life, Giovani dos Santos will be playing at home.
The former LA Galaxy attacker and Mexico international has signed with Club America, the team announced Saturday. It will be the first stop in Liga MX for the Monterrey native, after he came up in the Barcelona system and later spent time in England, Turkey and back in La Liga before crossing the Atlantic to join the LA Galaxy in 2015.
He and the Galaxy parted ways before the 2019 season, however, with the Galaxy buying out the last year of his contract to stay compliant with MLS roster regulations. Dos Santos, who was nursing an injury, worked out at the Mexico national team's training center in Mexico City and had been linked with several clubs in his native country.
Links with America always had been strong, with the 30-year-old's father Zizinho having played for Las Aguilas in the 80s. The signing also could make sense for an America team that has been stable at the back for several seasons but unable to find the answer in attack. Center back Bruno Valdez led the team in scoring during the 2018 Apertura, in which America won the Liga MX title.
"Dreams do come true," Dos Santos tweeted. "Thanks to Club America for the welcome. I'm very happy to join the best team in Mexico."
America signed former Pumas and Benfica forward Nicolas Castillo in the winter but the team's 28 Clausura goals put it in a tie for sixth in the league in goals scored. This offseason, the club sold veteran forward Oribe Peralta to rival Chivas as it continues to modify up front.
Dos Santos has showed plenty of potential in his career, but has struggled to display it consistently. He was awarded the Silver Ball at the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship, which Mexico won, and also helped El Tri to Olympic gold in 2012. His goal in the 2011 Gold Cup final is legendary with Mexico fans.
However, at the club level, he scored more than 10 goals just twice - in 2013-14 with Villarreal and in 2016 with the Galaxy. The 2012-13 campaign with Mallorca also was a strong one for Dos Santos, but despite six goals and a handful of assists, he couldn't help the club stay in the first division.
His reputation as someone more concerned with what was happening after the game than during it has followed him for some time, though he insisted he's changed his ways as he's grown.
Prior to last year's World Cup, Dos Santos said he was mostly enjoying family time with his brother Jonathan and reading books rather than sampling the LA nightlife. Still, reports indicate Dos Santos' deal with America has several discipline-focused marks the player must abide by to keep the contract valid.
Dos Santos could make his America debut as early as Tuesday when the club faces Pumas in a friendly in Texas.