We thought you were going to be our vato..
Giovani Dos Santos travled to Mexico yesterday to train with the national team. It is not very often that a European team allows a player to leave for national team duty before the standard window. Unheard of really, but very indicative of the year Gio has had in North London.
We all know the story. A 15 year old boy wonder helps Mexico win the U17 world cup in Perú. Considered a can’t miss property for Barcelona, the next Ronaldinho, we were told. He got the pepsi endorsement, the nike contract, and the inevitable shoe named after him. He looked fantastic in the pre-seasons. He made some plays and scored some goals. But one day, the boos poured down from the Camp Nou. Gio didn’t understand why and didn’t like it.
His confidence was gone. He forgot to do the things that made him such a great prospect. Absent were the one on one moves, the shots on goal, the visionary through balls. He fell out of favor with the new coach, his youth coach. What did Pep know that we didn't? Gio needed a fresh start. We heard that Gio was unwilling to accept a loan move; he wanted to be bought outright. Tottenham came calling.
He lit the field on fire again in the pre-season. But once the games mattered, Gio disappeared again. Tottenham never appeared, managing only 13 points out of 14 matches. An ankle injury sidelined Gio in late October coupled with a coaching change rendered Gio inactive, but for one half in the FA cup last week. Gio was to be sold to Portsmouth, but nothing was ever worked out. He was not match fit, the money wasn’t right. Regardless of the reason, Gio stays at Tottenham-- unwanted.
But for this week at least, Gio goes where he is wanted, needed, and appreciated. A good week of practice with the Tri can give him the confidence he desperately needs. And a confident Gio can make a difference in Columbus.
Despite his season from hell, it doesn’t change the fact that he is immensely talented. And it doesn’t change the fact that he is still only 19. When I was 19, I was mastering the high art sleeping late, building tolerance, and deception (nomás la puntita, te lo prometo).
He has a Trojan appetite for glory, but needs to find within him the Spartan will to sacrifice for it. Gio is a great player, and he needs to learn to become a professional.