Giovani dos Santos was once considered the next superstar at FC Barcelona. But the Mexican failed on himself – and also on Lionel Messi. At the age of 32 he slipped into being without a club.
May 17, 2008 was a very special one in Giovani dos Santos’ career – in more ways than one. On that day, the Mexican in the FC Barcelona jersey scored his first hat-trick as a professional – just over a week after his 19th birthday.
The slightly belated gift that the gifted technician gave himself at the time actually had the potential to launch a world-class career. Because dos Santos definitely had the potential to do so.
But things turned out differently. Today, shortly after his 33rd birthday, Giovani dos Santos has almost been forgotten. And a certain Lionel Messi has something to do with that.
The parallels between dos Santos and the Argentine are striking at first glance. Both left their homeland at the age of 13 and joined FC Barcelona’s youth academy. Both went through the youth teams and made the leap to the professionals. And both have been at home in similar positions on the field – up front, where the glory is to be earned.
Giovani dos Santos and Messi: Parallels are unmistakable
But there was a big problem in Barcelona. Messi was seeded and a certain Bojan Krkic also caused a stir. In a way, Dos Santos became the fifth wheel on the wagon. So he joined Tottenham Hotspur a few weeks after his hat-trick against Bilbao.
The coach there, Juande Ramos, thought highly of dos Santos and came straight into action early in the Premier League season. However, the team was not successful. Ramos had to leave in October 2008 and dos Santos played no role under his successor Harry Radknapp. An odyssey with several loan deals to Ipswich Town, Galatasaray Istanbul and Racing Santander followed before the Tottenham chapter finally came to an end in 2012.
But apparently it wasn’t just the circumstances that stood in the way of dos Santos at this stage of his career, but also his lack of professionalism – at least that’s what Redknapp hinted at. “If he could dodge a nightclub like he could pass a ball, it would be fine,” the coach told dem in 2010 DailyStar. It doesn’t take long to understand what Redknapp meant by that.
“He has a whole arsenal of skills. But suddenly he was late on Monday morning and had a stomach ache. He must have been partying somewhere in Barcelona,” he criticized, but also highlighted dos Santos’ strong 2010 World Cup and predicted another great one for him Career – if he thinks about the job.
After a strong year in Mallorca, dos Santos switched to Villarreal FC, where he finally got regular appearances at the top level. His decision to switch to the Los Angeles Galaxy in the MLS in 2015 at the age of 26 was all the more surprising. At that time, the US league was considered much more as the last exit for former great footballers who ended their careers with a lot of money and without the big spotlight. But dos Santos played big, became the star of the team – and was even nominated for the Ballon d’Or 2015.