Giovani dos Santos - Player Profile

Mexico’s Brightest Light for Gold Cup Glory

Personal information
Full name: Giovani dos Santos Ramirez
Date of birth: 11 May 1989
Age: 26
Place of birth: Monterrey, Mexico
Height: 1.79 m (5 ft 10 in)
Playing position: Attacking midfielder

Club information
Current team: Villarreal
Number: 9

Youth career
2002–2006: Barcelona

Senior career
2006–2007: Barcelona B 27 Appearances, 6 goals
2007–2008: Barcelona 37 Appearances, 4 goals
2008–2012: Tottenham Hotspur 31 Appearances, 0 goals
2009 → Ipswich Town (loan) 8 Appearances, 4 goals

Ever since Giovani Dos Santos showed his skills at the 2005 U17 World Cup, it was clear that he was going to be a player to follow. He was just 16 years old at that time and was the only footballer on the team who was not playing on Mexican soil. Dos Santos arrived in La Masia at age 11. He quickly became an undisputed starter with the youth teams, including Barcelona B.

Son of Brazilian player Zizinho, who appeared with Mexican clubs America, Leon and Necaxa, to name a few, it was clear that Gio had the technique and playing style of his father. In the U17 World Cup, Dos Santos didn’t score, but that was far from being a concern. He became the brains on the pitch. His fantastic touch and creativity gave Mexico depth and goal opportunities. No other footballer made as many assists as Dos Santos, who bagged a total of seven. His nearest competitor was Brazil’s Anderson, who had six. Dos Santos’ brilliance earned him the Silver Ball, reaffirming that he was one of El Tri’s top players alongside Carlos Vela, who grabbed the Golden Shoe.

Gio was the kind of player Mexico lacked. He had fantastic dribbling skills; a fine touch, speed and intelligence, which gave the team a lot of attacking options. He quickly became one of the most promising footballers of the country. Dos Santos returned to Spain and eventually made his debut with Barcelona’s senior team. His future seemed bright until he arrived at Tottenham Hotspur, where he not only barely played but was loaned on a regular basis. His lack of playing time didn’t seem to hurt him much, though. Dos Santos only appeared 57 times in a two-year span with Tottenham, Ipswich Town and Galatasaray. However, he became an undisputed starter with Mexico's senior squad and proved to have enough talent to make a difference on the pitch. Gio appeared 30 times with El Tri, 27 of them in the starting XI, including at the 2010 World Cup. In that period, he also scored six times with the national team. Dos Santos played 90-minute games, making a difference despite barely appearing on a club level because his talent made him a valuable asset. Once he arrived in Spain at Villarreal, he started to appear on a regular basis, which helped him get back in shape. His rhythm was also better. Granted, injuries have gotten in his way, he still makes a huge difference whenever he’s on the pitch. Dos Santos is just 26 years old. As time has gone by, Gio has become a far more complete player, and all the trust and playing time he has received in Spain will also benefit Mexico. Dos Santos has a fantastic set of skills in addition to the hunger to make a difference on the pitch, and the good news is he has a long way to go.

Mexico's chances of winning the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup took a hit last Wednesday when Javier Hernandez left El Tri's friendly against Honduras with an upper-body injury.  As SportsCenter's official Twitter account confirmed, Hernandez suffered a broken collarbone, which will force him to miss the critical tournament that Mexico need to win in order to force a playoff for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. Despite the absence of Chicharito in the Mexico attack, manager Miguel Herrera still has plenty of worthy options at his disposal. Since El Tri made winning the Gold Cup their top summer priority, Herrera's squad is loaded with dangerous attacking talent. Giovani Dos Santos, Carlos Vela and Oribe Peralta are all capable of carrying El Tri to the title.

Dos Santos enters the Gold Cup as one of the top players in the North American region. With Chicharito no longer participating in the competition, the 26-year-old has a chance to prove his worth as the best active Mexican player. The Villarreal forward has plenty of experience at the Gold Cup as well. Dos Santos was a part of the 2009 and 2011 squads that took home the top honours in Concacaf. One of his finest tournaments was the 2011 Gold Cup. He proved to be on the right track to becoming one of the best Mexican footballers. Gio reminded us of the kid we saw back in 2005. He created goal opportunities, helped his teammates and even scored, and he did it in style. He was also a vital part of the Mexican side in the infamous 2011 final that saw El Tri embarrass the United States in front of more than 93,000 fans at the Rose Bowl. Dos Santos has also being linked to the LA Galaxy in recent weeks. But one would think a few European suitors might come calling if he shines up top for El Tri. Mexico are without a victory in their last seven games, their worst winless run since 2001. Gio needs to step up his game if Mexico are to stand any chance of lifting the Gold Cup.