El Centrocampista

Did Tottenham Hotspur fail the ‘new Ronaldinho’?

Giovani dos Santos’ unhappy four-year spell at Tottenham Hotspur looks to be finally nearing an end this week as reports from Spain suggest the young Mexican is closing in on a deal with big spending Malaga.

The 23-year-old  arrived at White Hart Lane in the Summer of 2008 after the-then Spurs boss Juande Ramos paid Barcelona a reported €6 million for his services – a sum that had potential to rise considerably depending on his impact at Tottenham.

Dos Santos struggled to establish himself however and was found surplus to requirements when Ramos was replaced by Harry Redknapp at the end of that year – in all the la Masia graduate has made just 30 appearances for Spurs and scored three goals.

Nonetheless, there has been no shortage of clubs reported to be showing interest in the Monterrey-born attacking midfielder and it now appears Malaga have succeeded in beating Atletico Madrid and Real Betis to the player’s signature.

Giovani’s happiest times on the pitch have been in Spain with the reduced pace of the game appearing more suitable to his style of player than that of the Premier League. In his short spell on loan at Racing Santander last year he managed 16 appearances, and scored an impressive five goals – not bad for a midfielder who had little time to settle into his new surroundings at el Sardinero.

Few should really be surprised by the skill level of a player who graduated from Barcelona’s famed academy – especially as dos Santos was once dubbed the new Ronaldinho. And while it is dangerous to compare young players to established legends, it seemed to many a natural observation to make.

Before joining Tottenham, dos Santos had built himself an impressive CV, making 28 appearances for the club in his first season, and had shown signs that he could become a permanent fixture at the Camp Nou. The decision to let him leave was made nevertheless and the player arrived at White Hart Lane under a wave of expectation.

Many believe that dos Santos was not given enough  opportunity to impress at Spurs however – despite being consistently strong at International level for his native Mexico who he has represented  59 times at just 23 years of age.

There seems to me to be a similarity between Dos Santos and another young Barcelona player who went searching for greener fields in the Premier League, Cesc Fabregas. Of course Fabregas’ time in the English game contrasted greatly to that of Dos Santos, however there are similarities between the two. Both are attack minded midfielders who have a similar style of play, drilled into them while at La Masia.

It could be argued the key difference has little to do with the players themselves, rather their managers. Even a casual follower of Arsenal will know of Arsene Wenger’s love of picking young, talented footballers regularly in his teams. Meanwhile down the road at White Hart Lane it could be suggested that Harry Redknapp missed a trick, not only with Dos Santos but with a couple of other, now high profile players. Adel Taarabt and Kevin Prince Boateng to name just two who have slipped through the net at Tottenham.

After the relative success Redknapp had at Spurs, few Tottenham fans would begrudge these errors in judgement, however the name of dos Santos can now be added to the list of quality players who have failed to catch the eye of the former Portsmouth and West Ham boss.

If the youngster does ultimately sign for Malaga, fans of the Andaluz club may rightly ask what sort of player they’ve bought. It’s a fair question to ask given his lack of game time over recent seasons. For the answer they need look in the direction of the Gold Cup final last year when Mexico played the United States. Dos Santos put in a man of the match performance in which he showed hunger, ability, skill, professionalism (something which he was criticised for by Redknapp) and rounded it all off with an exquisite chip into the top corner to seal the win for his team.

If you combine that with his excellent performances while on loan with Racing, and the the fact that he learnt his trade in the youth system of one of the best clubs in the world; it could just prove to be an extremely astute signing for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

The one that got away for Harry Redknapp and Tottenham Hotspur?


  1. Will

    5 July, 2012 at 11:06


    Do NOT let him go until you too have given up on him

  2. Bobbles

    5 July, 2012 at 11:10

    Word is that he failed himself – by not having the levels of commitment required and being more interested in the high-life than training hard.

    Plays well for Mexico, but has never had a game for Spurs where he set the world on fire, which is a shame. Would have been nice to think AVB could give him a chance, but now seems unlikely…

    • SP

      5 July, 2012 at 12:50

      Yeah…I was going to say that maybe “How GThe New Ronaldhino Failed Himself and Spurs” might be a more appropriate title.

  3. RhinoNeal

    5 July, 2012 at 11:13

    This guy was never ever given a fair chance at Spurs by Redknapp which is a shame because he is a quality player. Hopefully now we have a new manager, who does give youth a chance, he will get his chance at Spurs. The only games he played for Spurs really was in the Europa Cup and he played well, very well in fact, scored a goal and did a lot of defensive play as well as wing play. I would love to see him given a crack at Spurs but should he leave then I wish him all the best but will be sad to see him go.

  4. JP

    5 July, 2012 at 11:38

    You fail to mention that he didn’t impress in training, and spent his years in London clubbing and drinking. Tottenham will always give opportunities to those that deserve them and Gio, KPB and Taraabt all have attitude problems such that I cannot blame managers for showing them the bench. A wasted opportunity for him, not for Spurs.

  5. Joespur

    5 July, 2012 at 11:47

    This is the same Dos Santos who turned up repeatedly late for training, consistently overweight and unfit, and on one occasion drunk. Other young players have flourished at spurs. GDS needs to look in the mirror for where the blame lies.

  6. Bob

    5 July, 2012 at 11:47

    It’s not Harry Redknapp’s fault that Dos Santos failed to become a star at Tottenham. Interesting that you compare Dos Santos to Boateng and Terriblebaat. What do/did they all have in common when they were at Spurs? They all though they’d made it and went off living a lifestyle that they shouldn’t have been living. They took their foot off the gas and were not professional. Primadonas, no manager in their right mind would have played any of them given their attitudes. To compare Dos Santos to Fabregas is laughable.

  7. jb

    5 July, 2012 at 11:48

    you cant warant that title clearly was no good in training therefore does not get in the team! Im certain Ronaldinho proved himself and if he really was the next ronaldinho why would Barca sell him? They would have loaned him!

  8. Jordan

    5 July, 2012 at 11:54

    What kind of joke headline is that? Presumably you are comparing their clubbing lifestyle, presumably you are comparing both were unfit, presumably you are comparing they neither could be bothered to try. Ronaldinho did however have a brilliant period of his career but in all respects Dos Santos is not in the same league os Ronaldinho, he is not fit to tie his boot laces.

    Have you actually watched him? He loses the ball and sits down!!! He loses the ball and just stands still watching!!! I don’t recall Ronaldinho having that attitude.

    • FCB1899

      5 July, 2012 at 13:43

      In fairness to the author, Dos Santos was known as the ‘new Ronaldinho’ by many in the Catalan press – the writer here is paraphrasing this monicker in the headline.

      To be honest although R10 was awesome – he soon lost it and had a terrible attitude sometimes – Dos Santos may not be as good as him but he is a top talent.

  9. dannyspur

    5 July, 2012 at 12:03

    I agree with the sentiments above – never really given a run of games to get upto speed in the premiership. Shame ‘arry didn’t do ‘rotation’, that may have benefitted both the player and the team as a whole.
    Maybe too late for AVB to give him a chance.

  10. Susan

    5 July, 2012 at 12:04

    Adel Tarrabt? The guy who thinks he is a genius and defending is for others? QPR have tried to get shot of him. Slipped through Tottenham’s net? You clearly know little about football.

    Boeteng was another who thought he was better than he was. He did nothing in the Premier League and was only when he went to a county that plays a slow pace of football that he could shine because he is afforded time on the ball. You don’t get that in the Premier League and some players can’t hack it.

    Comparing a guy who can’t be bothered, turns up late for and even misses training to go night clubbing in Spain with Ronaldinho, a former world class player, what a joke.

  11. BrianVanGodric

    5 July, 2012 at 12:06

    Huge talent that wasn’t used forward enough by Redknapp and also needed time and patience to fulfil his almighty talent. Missed a trick is right. Here’s hoping AVB gets to take a proper look at him.

  12. Ben Crump

    5 July, 2012 at 12:21

    One thing I will start by saying is that I am in awe of Dos Santos’ talent. Very rarely do we see flair players of his ability, comparisons to Ronaldinho may now be unfounded but the similiarities are there.

    This argument has two sides, like every argument but both are joint. Dos Santos was not given enough time at Spurs, why? It is fair to say that Harry Redknapp has his favourites and Gio did not get given the chances he deserves.

    However, Giovani Dos Santos comes from an era at Barcelona that included the likes of Deco and the before mentioned Ronaldinho. Players Barcelona decided to sell due to their flamboyant attitude and nature off the field. Their influence on the teams young talent was showing, hence the lack of success between 2006 after that Champions League win over Arsenal until Pep Guardiola came in.

    Giovani Dos Santos was one of those and it is fair to say he is easily led, take his little brother for example (Jonathon) who has also shown a lack of professionalism at such a young age (Caught with Prostitutes on international duty).

    Barca’s decision to let Deco and Ronnie go was a massive decision and it paid off, look at how Lionel Messi has turned out without them around.

    Unfortuantely for Gio, it was too late and he must now forget his nightmare years. Its time to forget the ‘Ronnie’ tag, the late nights, the parties, Spurs etc and refind the talent we have seen on rare occasions.

  13. Connor J

    5 July, 2012 at 12:50

    I’m sorry but that is rubbish. He’s had his chances at Spurs an never once have i seen him impress. The fact is he doesn’t have the commitment on the pitch or off the pitch that most would expect.

    Talented player yes but wouldn’t be gutted if he was to leave.

    As for Taarabt being one that slipped through the net? He’s only at QPR and he’s not even a regular there! Terrible article.

  14. shevyiddo

    5 July, 2012 at 13:00

    Apparently he wouldn’t stop clubbing and turning up late for training.That epitomizes the lack in professionalism that Harry was talking about and he was right.Yes he has got skill undoubtedly but you can’t run a team and let that shit go on,what kind of example does that set for the younguns coming thro’ the academy? So he out classed a few yanks! To be fair,their MLS star players are all premier league has beens and pensioners.If his heart wasn’t in it at Tottenham then good f***ing riddance to the lazy little c**t with his selective ‘man-of-the-match’ performances.I love Tottenham and only want to see players who consistently at least try to play like that for us.As for him not getting a chance 30 appearances is 30 chances so WTF? Just hope we at leat get our money back.We’re going forward and he aint good enough for us.We are Tottenham…super Tottenham…

  15. FCB1899

    5 July, 2012 at 13:53

    30 appearances seems sufficient opportunity (in fact I think he played 33 games in all competitions) but the vast majority of those were as substitute – which for a young player coming into a different country (non-Spansih speaking) is surely not adequate to acclimatise to the speed of the game in England.

    The fact he only started 2 Premier League games during his whole time there suggests he wasn’t given enough of a chance. This is also bound to affect his motivation as he was only 18 or 19 when he arrived – still a kid.

    I watched Gio come through the ranks at Barça and he is a supremely gifted player and the fact he performs well for Mexico is proof. I think he is partly to blame for the situation but surely he could have been handled better by the staff at Tottenham, after all he is still only 23.

    Great read and some good observations in my view – everybody has their own opinion, that’s what makes football so good!

    • Razor

      5 July, 2012 at 15:14

      this article seems to completely gloss over why Barca let him go in the first place. so did Barca also fail ‘the next Ronaldinho’ ?
      if he had the right attitude and commitment to combine with his talent Barca would not have let him go anywhere.
      if he moves on and becomes a great success maybe Spurs will have helped him rather than fail him. it is just possible that the reasons for his lack of game time are beginning to sink in.

  16. Dos Santos

    6 July, 2012 at 13:24

    I think, like a lot of young talented flair players, Dos Santos seems to be a confidence player. When he feels good, he plays good. And, despite those 33 appearances mentioned above, that cant be enough to build up the momentum and comfort that players like that need. What Dos Santos did at Racing was extremely underrated. Without him, they were not much better than the horrific team that went down this year. I am looking foward to having him in la liga.

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