When Tottenham Hotspur acquired the services of Giovani Dos Santos in the summer of 2008 their fans hoped they had gained a former Barcelona player to rival that of Arsenal’s Cesc Fabregas. This attacking player who is equally adept at playing on the wing has yet to stamp his authority on White Hart Lane. The Mexican international has hardly had a chance to make his presence felt due to a succession of ankle injuries and loan moves. Tottenham’s successful push for a Champions League spot last season can be partly attributed to the improved performances of a number of players. Gareth Bale is foremost amongst these players, having put in some exhilaratingly commanding performances on Spurs’ left wing during their difficult end of season run-in. He was a player transformed but in another important season in which Harry Redknapp has already raised the issue of fixture congestion, can Dos Santos step up to become this campaign’s Gareth Bale?
Giovani Dos Santos’ three goals for Barcelona all came during his final appearance for the club in their 5-3 defeat of Real Murcia. In June 2008 the Mexican completed an £8.6 million move to north London. It was unfortunate that an ankle injury halted his progress initially and with first-team opportunities not forthcoming he was loaned to Championship outfit Ipswich Town for the latter half of the 08/09 season. A return of four goals in eight appearances and scoring the winner in the keenly contested East Anglian derby earned him praise at Portman Road. Frustratingly for the player the next campaign followed a similar pattern. Having suffered another ankle injury he was eventually sent to Turkish giants, Galatasaray on loan.
Having been brought to the club by former manager, Juande Ramos and sporting director Damien Comolli, Dos Santos has had to adjust to the straight-talking regime implemented by Harry Redknapp. For the experienced Englishman the player harbours the talent and ability to succeed but has lacked motivation. In the Mail on Sunday Redknapp said, “It’s whether he has the dedication and the desire. He lacked that in the past but hopefully he’ll get his head right and show what he can do.”
The motivation and desire to showcase his attacking skills was not an issue in Mexico’s World Cup campaign. Although he evidently enjoyed the confidence of the now former Mexico boss, Javier Aguirre as he played in every game for the side in South Africa. His performances merited a place on the shortlist of Fifa’s prestigious Hyundai Best Young Player Award. With his brother Jonathan narrowly missing out on Mexico’s 23-man squad some questioned whether his attitude would again be at fault. This was not the case as the forward deployed on the right wing unleashed a number of powerful shots in the opening game of the tournament. Dos Santos who would invariably drift into a more central, freer role appeared sharp and quick witted in attack, combining well with his team-mates and unsettling labouring defenders with his speed. His final ball could have been more consistent but the ideas, creativity and enthusiasm from this young attacker was palpable.
Gareth Bale transformed his reputation at Spurs last season from that of perpetual loser to one of the best left-sided players in the league. His contributions together with the improved performances of Bentley, Gomes and Pavlyuchenko were critical as the side beat Manchester City to the coveted fourth place finish. The achievements of Bale and other players who have endured difficult spells should provide hope and context for Dos Santos. In the continued absence of one special signing Spurs may just need Dos Santos to be this season’s Gareth Bale.