That Giovani Dos Santos still retains something of a “golden boy” aura is quite phenomenal considering how mediocre his career has been at the club level.
Barcelona sold him aged 19, after he’d featured 28 times in La Liga for the Catalan side. Dos Santos moved on to Tottenham, which was then under the forward-thinking Spanish coach Juande Ramos. Most people know what happened next. Harry Redknapp came in. It barely needs re-emphasizing that things didn’t turn out too well with “‘Arry,” who just didn’t click with Dos Santos and didn’t seem interested in giving him a fair shot, although the player has to take a least some share of the blame.
In the four years at Spurs under Redknapp, the Monterrey-born player started just two games in the Premier League, passing through spells with Ipswich Town and Galatasaray, before regaining some confidence at Racing Santander.
“If he could pass a nightclub as well as he can pass a ball, he would be all right," Redknapp said of Dos Santos in the summer of 2010.
It was obviously a humorous quote, but Dos Santos is hardly the only young, wealthy footballer to enjoy the odd night out. You can’t imagine, for example, Sir Alex Ferguson, damaging one of his player’s reputations in such a public way, no matter how furious he was inside.
It was a relief when Dos Santos signed last summer for Real Mallorca and everything pointed towards a new dawn and a chance for the player to show maturity and start fulfilling his obvious talent. It also seemed a good fit. The club was expected to finish mid-table, not get relegated as it did. That can’t be said to have been Dos Santos’ fault -- he had probably his best club season of his career, with six goals and seven assists -- but a relegation never looks good on the resume.
So what now for the ever-popular 24-year-old?
Options appear to be as wide-ranging as LA Galaxy, Queretaro and Valencia. Then there is the outside possibility that Dos Santos will stay put in Mallorca and try to help it back into La Liga.
It is a massive decision for the Mexican international, not just because the upcoming season leads into the Brazil 2014 World Cup, but also due to the fact Dos Santos is now entering his prime. He is no longer th 16-year-old who stormed to fame by leading Mexico to U-17 World Cup glory back in 2005.
The most obvious club of those mentioned above is Valencia. A regular challenger for the Champions League places, Dos Santos would be alongside international teammate Andres Guardado and among players who can help him shine.
Atletico Madrid would also fit the bill and has the money after selling Radamel Falcao, but whether Dos Santos has done enough over a long enough period to justify such an important move is questionable.
That’s where the Confederations Cup comes in. The former Barca player could be advised to hold off until later this month in the hope that he shines in Brazil and attracts the likes of Atletico, or even noveau rich clubs such as Monaco. It would also be useful for Dos Santos to enjoy a period of reflection of where he sees his career going.
The Galaxy link would offer Dos Santos riches and an extremely comfortable lifestyle in California, but on a competitive level, MLS can’t compete with Spain, England or Germany. While Dos Santos would fit nicely into MLS one day, right now is unlikely to be the time. Even when/if he does come back this side of the Atlantic, there would be likely be stiff competition from clubs like America and Monterrey and possibly from Brazil, Dos Santos’ father’s homeland.
Also on Gio’s agenda should be to go back to England and succeed to prove a point.
For now, however, Dos Santos needs to find stability in his club career and Valencia ticks all the boxes.
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