It’s not the bright lights of the Champions League, nor a headline-spinning, jaw-dropping move back across the pond to a hopeful LA Galaxy. Giovani Dos Santos has played it safe by signing a four-year deal with Villarreal.
After a torrid period at Tottenham Hotspur, Barcelona youth product Dos Santos is in a better position than most to understand the trials, tribulations and risks that playing for such clubs entail and must know that while he remains a figurehead for the Mexican national team, Mallorca’s relegation was yet another blotch on a so-far disappointing club career.
Newly-promoted Villarreal should offer the stability the 24-year-old’s career has craved, with the player certain to be a starter and likely to become the fulcrum of the side.
The main worry is that the Yellow Submarines may not have the quality to do anything but attempt to stave off relegation. It is a genuine concern for Dos Santos. The last thing he needs is to be in another side relegated from La Liga, although Villarreal bringing in former Mallorca teammate Tomas Pina and Serbian defender Aleksandar Pantic bodes well for the upcoming season.
On the bench at Villarreal is Spaniard Marcelino Garcia Toral, who knows Dos Santos well from when he coached the Mexican at Racing Santander in the second half of the 2010-11 season. At the time, it was Giovani’s most successful loan spell away from Tottenham, netting five goals in La Liga.
Even if Villarreal is his seventh club in his career, Dos Santos has the ability and, you would assume at his age, the ambition to move up in the medium term and play in European competition like fellow Mexicans Carlos Vela and Andres Guardado do on a regular basis. That is, of course, unless Villarreal can provide that.
Valencia would’ve been the most appealing option in that sense, but a run of poor form or an early injury could’ve left Dos Santos on the outside of the team, as happened to Guardado on occasions last season.
In that respect, it’s a smart move for Dos Santos. He will be wrapped in a safety jacket and protected. Perhaps with that in mind, he was at pains to stress that he was the one who chose Villarreal with rumors of interest from a number of clubs.
“Many different stories and rumors have gone out about my future and I’ve wanted to stay on the margin of it all, but now that the deal has been successfully agreed, I want to publicly state my excitement at signing for Villarreal,” Dos Santos said in a statement on the club’s website.
Another interesting twist is that fact El Tri teammate Javier Aquino is already at Villarreal. Dos Santos can play off a central striker or on either wing, but has played most recently on the right wing, the position that Aquino has occupied since he joined the club last January.
Dos Santos keeping Aquino out of the team could have repercussions for the latter at national team level.
Nevertheless, Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre will be satisfied that one of his most important pieces is at a club where he will play regularly at a high level ahead of next year’s World Cup, assuming El Tri gets there, of course.
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