Hailed as ‘the next Ronaldinho’, the pressure was on Giovani Dos Santos from the day he made his first appearance in a Barcelona shirt. Ronaldinho was ruling the World, and claims that he was the next best thing since Lionel Messi set the bar as high as possible for a boy aged just 18. Not only did the little Mexican possess great balance, trickery to make defenders dizzy and a good shot, but he also looked like the Samba ace. As if by irony, his fall from being one of the best youngsters in the world to a forgotten prodigy coincided with the demise of his Brazilian counter-part.
The rise of Lionel Messi and afterwards, Bojan, sent Dos Santos down the pecking order at the Camp Nou. He wanted first team football and after Barca indicated that would not be the case he decided to leave, choosing North London in the form of Tottenham.
Arriving with an £8.6million value and high expectations, Dos Santos initially enjoyed a good start with a handful of pre-season goals. This was to be his only true contribution in his spell at Spurs and, after a stint on loan at Ipswich Town, he has moved to Galatasaray in the hope of reviving his career.
Still only 20 years old, Dos Santos has time to fulfil his full potential. He has teamed up, once again, with Frank Rijkaard. It was Rijkaard who first presented him with a chance in the Barcelona first team and he will undoubtedly be aware of the talents his latest signing possesses.
So will Frank Rijkaard be able to get the best out of his former student, or was it simply a lack of being able to adjust to life in England that hindered his time at Spurs.
It is widely reported that some player’s simply struggle to adjust to the English game. Certainly coming from a team like Barcelona, who rely more on technique than physical prowess, will have been a problem initially. Also the style of play may have affected him, the Spanish game is more open and Barca have, for years, played with a 4-3-3 system in which he would occupy a role on either wing. Defensive duties may not have been a huge requirement under the dazzling lights of the Camp Nou but certainly Harry Redknapp will have expected more industry from a midfielder.
Rijkaard will know how the Mexican works. What makes him tick, where he is best utilised and more importantly, how to get it out of him. The Dutchman has already begun work on moulding the team to a system similar to the one he used at Barca. With Jo playing through the middle he has a choice of Harry Kewell, Dos Santos or Kader Keita to join Arda Turan in the creative roles just behind.
After being welcomed in Istanbul like a king and enjoying a successful second half in his first league appearance Dos Santos will feel obliged to repay the faith given to him by both manager and supporter. With a place in the Mexico squad at stake this could be his chance to finally prove to the World that he was not the next Ronaldinho but simply, the only, Giovani Dos Santos.