From party boy to helping Mexico win the gold medal in men's football in 2012 and everything in between, Giovani dos Santos has had a rollercoaster of a career to date. Named as a wonderkid who was highly sought after in Football Manager for his versatile attacking skills and ability to score and set up goals for teammates, he’s managed to drop off somewhere along the line and fade out of sight.
Where it began
It was of little surprise when Giovani dos Santos joined Barcelona’s academy of La Masia at the tender age of 13, following in his father’s footsteps to become a professional football player. Dos Santos quickly demonstrated his talent and played for Barcelona’s Juvenil A category helping his team to regain a prime position in the league and win the regional title. This performance earned him an invitation to the pre-season tour of Barcelona’s senior team in 2006 where Dos Santos scored in his senior team debut against Danish club AGF Aarhus during a friendly game. Dos Santos was beginning to carve out a name for himself and in November 2006, Barcelona announced Dos Santo in their 23 man squad for the FIFA World Cup being hosted in Japan.
People were quickly taking note of this new talent that was quickly rising and in 2007 Dos Santos was again invited to join Barcelona’s senior team on their pre-season tour. In the 62nd minute of the match against Athletico Bilbao, Dos Santos made his competitive and league debut when he came on in place of Thierry Henry. That same year, Dos Santos made his UEFA Champions League debut during a 3-0 home win against Lyon when he came on as a substitute in the 79th minute. There was much excitement around Dos Santos and during 2007, he was named as one of the ‘Top 50 Most Exciting Teen Footballers’ by World Soccer Magazine. Dos Santos continued to impress, living up to expectations, and scored an amazing hat-trick during the Barcelona v Real Murcia in May 2008. However this was to be Dos Santos’ last appearance before moving to Tottenham Hotspur in hope of more play time.
Dos Santos played multiple pre-season games for Spur’s before scoring his first competitive goal for Tottenham in the UEFA Cup in February 2009 against Shakhtar Donetsk. Despite the young Mexicans' hope for more play time, Dos Santos only made 12 first team appearances before being loaned out to Ipswich for the remainder of the season. The decision to loan Dos Santos came when Juande Ramos left and Harry Redknapp came in to manage Spurs. Dos Santos was rarely given any growth opportunities and was barely acknowledged by Harry Redknapp during this time.
At the beginning of the 2009-10 season, Dos Santos returned to Tottenham with his first game of the season being against Doncaster Rovers in the League Cup. During this game he managed to provide an assist but was then substituted off due to a previous ankle injury he’d earlier attained. Dos Santos’ behaviour began to be called out by Redknapp, with the manager being very unhappy at him for turning up late to training on Monday mornings and partying. Dos Santos didn’t seem to recover from this with the Tottenham manager and ended up on loan to several different clubs.
In August 2012 Dos Santos signed a 4 year deal with Spanish team, Mallorca, after reportedly telling Tottenham he wanted to move on or else he would leave on a free transfer during the next transfer window. There were claims Inter Milan and Sevilla were also interested before his move to Mallorca. In October that same year, Dos Santos made his debut for his new club, assisting both goals in a 3-2 defeat to Sevilla. Dos Santos seemed to impress at his new club and ended up with 32 appearances and finished as their top goal scorer, this was a vast difference to his time at Spurs.
Giovanni Dos Santos moved on to Villarreal in 2013 followed by La Galaxy in 2015 and then América in 2019. The young Mexican never managed to stay at any club for a long period of time even with his excellent game play in offensive positions and assists. He picked up an injury at Club América that would require surgery and he was ruled out of action for up to 6 weeks and was later released in June 2021. This injury seemed to come at a time when he was building up momentum within his career and obtaining an injury of this extent seemed to send his career spiralling downward.
Dos Santos has been a free agent since his release. Perhaps it was the injury or even the party boy lifestyle that Dos Santos led, but he never managed to regain the glory and excitement he once had. That being said, the Mexican footballer managed to excite fans in real life and in Football Manager.