everyone agrees that giovani dos santos has talent. unfortunately for two saints, all also agree that he has never been able to make the most of that talent.
“According to its quality, it has fallen short,” Jesús Ramírez, who coached two Saints in the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship, before the 2018 World Cup, told the country. “What they did was impressive. him and (carlos) sail. his potential is high, but i think it’s slowed him down a bit.”
When he once again starts looking for a job after the galaxy of the galaxy lost him, one can’t help but wonder why he was never able to realize his full potential. How did this player, who was already in the famous quarry of Barcelona’s farmhouse when he won the silver ball at the U-17 world championship in Peru by helping Mexico win the title, not break through?
dos santos never found consistency in europe. After a year in the first team with Barcelona, he played in the Premier League, the Championship, the Turkish Super League and three different Spanish teams before, at the age of 26, he decided to return to North America. his signing by the galaxy was a blow to major league soccer but represented a premature end to his european career. his future now hangs in the balance after being considered surplus to the galaxy.
Whether that lack of consistency from the start was his fault or that of the European clubs is up for debate. it’s hard to find a place for a player on the field when you’re not sure where to put him. dos santos plays better as a second striker, but many of his clubs have needed something more from him. that has led him to a time as a midfielder, where there are magical but infrequent moments of chance creation, as an inverted winger, where two saints often float too deep to look for the ball or create a chance for themselves, or with the left-footer playing in its natural profile on the left side, where many times it fails to impact.
The problem of positioning also haunted him with the galaxy. he was electric in 2016, scoring 14 goals and dishing out 12 assists. while he continued to get playing time in 2017, he was unable to produce as his place in the offense became less obvious. Last season, between injuries and international time out, Gio finished with just 823 minutes on the field, scoring three goals and notching two assists in 14 appearances.
Minutes weren’t the issue in Los Angeles, which was a change from his time in Europe. Frank Rijkaard, former Barça boss, gave chances to two Saints, as the 19-year-old played more than 1,000 minutes in La Liga for the Blaugrana in 2007-08. It was there that the positional issues first arose, with Gio all too often looking to get into the space where Lionel Messi was already operating. finally, dos santos was overtaken by bojan krkic. Dos Santos’ academy mate set a club record with 10 goals in his debut season with the first team, making Dos Santos expendable. A €5m offer from Spurs was too good for Barca to pass up, and Dos Santos was on his way to London. He arrived the same summer as Luka Modric, rising from the shadow of Bojan to that of a player who would eventually be named the best.
another possible derailment had arisen in barcelona. Dos Santos’ commitment to the sport has often been questioned. Deserved or not, Dos Santos had a reputation for enjoying the nightlife wherever he played. Paparazzi in Barcelona and London took pictures of him in nightclubs, and the party boy tag has stuck. After he sought out a header that Agustin Marchesin claimed in the first leg of a 2016 CONCACAF Champions League match, the then-Santos Laguna goalkeeper called Dos Santos drunk and made a gesture as if he were drinking from a bottle. that caused the fans in torreón to chant “drunk” in two saints in the second leg.
His motivation has often been questioned. between the party and the decision to go to the mls instead of continuing with villarreal, the mexican fans had a very high bar for two saints that they could never reach. the move to mls was judged harshly. dos santos shone with relegation-fading mallorca in 2012-13, and then played back-to-back seasons with the yellow submarine. it was the first time in his career that he played consecutive seasons with the same club, but still he jumped across the atlantic.
The club’s struggles contrasted with many of his moments with the Mexico national team. Starting in 2005, Dos Santos has been there for the Tri time and time again. there was his incredible goal in the 2011 gold cup final, in which he blocked us. goalkeeper tim howard with five quick touches into the box and used his sixth to send a perfect chip into the top corner of the net. He scored three times at the 2012 Olympics, helping Mexico to gold. Gio has three gold cup titles to his name and was named the 2009 edition’s most valuable player.
Even with those wins for his country, fans in Mexico have been hesitant to embrace him. when employing a “what have you done for me lately?” mentality, the frustration is understandable. Former Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio ran into many of the same tactical problems using two saints that the club’s coaches had before him.
Dos Santos’ best days on the national team seem to be behind him. The 29-year-old should have enough in his legs to fight for a place on Mexico’s 2022 World Cup roster, but now he doesn’t have a club team and is working to recover from injury.
When goal spoke with two saints last year, he talked about reading books to help him think positively and about spending time with family instead of going out on the town in Los Angeles. he had no regrets about heading to socal instead of moving on to europe.
“if it took me to the moment of making the decision and if at that moment they had called me from the teams you mentioned, I would have chosen galaxy”, he told espn mexico last year when asked if he should have returned to the spurs or move to a bigger Spanish club instead of heading to the. “I’m happy with the decision I’ve made. I get up in the morning and I’m happy and that’s what’s important to me in the end. I salute my family, my siblings, my parents. Me being happy. It’s priceless.”
In the grand scheme of things, your personal happiness is far more important than your athletic success. however, if you want your career to have a happy ending, you have a long way to go.
dos santos will never live up to the high expectations that many had for him after his impressive performances as a teenager. now, success is a much lower bar to overcome. Gio needs to get healthy, find a club and get back into the image of the national team. the pressure of expectations must be off. now he is free to try to recapture the talent that everyone always agreed he had within him.