When Tottenham signed 19-year-old forward Giovani dos Santos from Barcelona in 2008, fans must have thought that they had struck gold. They were soon to be very disappointed.
After all, this was a player that had made 28 La Liga appearances the previous season for a side that lifted the Champions League trophy. In a deal that was originally worth £4.7m, that, by today’s standards, was a bargain.
However, it was not so much what dos Santos provided on the pitch that let him down, but off it. He failed to impress manager Harry Redknapp, as the candid boss thought that he lacked the commitment for the team. Redknapp questioned the Mexican’s social life particularly, once saying: “If he could pass a nightclub as well as he can pass a ball, he would be all right.”
As talented as he was, he could never get into Redknapp’s good books. After arriving at White Hart Lane, he was carted off to Ipswich to play in the Championship. The following season was spent playing for Galatasaray, and the season after that was spent in La Liga for Racing Santander. He spent the 2011/12 season in north London, but failed to make an impression, with very few appearances.
After four uneventful years, where he made just 17 appearances in the Premier League, dos Santos was sold to Mallorca in 2012, where he featured much more in La Liga. This earned a transfer to Villarreal, where he had two successful seasons.
In 2015, dos Santos secured a transfer to MLS outfit LA Galaxy, where he would eventually team up and play with brother Jonathan. Despite being a fairly successful player in the MLS, this is a far cry from the potential that he had ten years ago. To make matters worse, he was even voted the most overrated player in the MLS earlier this year; an accolade that he would not have expected to receive as a teenager at Barcelona.
While his club career has never really kicked off, dos Santos has earned over 100 caps for Mexico and won the CONCACAF Gold Cup three times. This is the only saving grace in his career and the only factor that doesn’t categorise him as a complete failure.
No one knows how a player’s career will turn out, but when fans saw a pacey 19-year-old dribbling down the wing of the Camp Nou, no one saw this happening.