He steps onto Stade de Suisse's pitch, wearing his number 17 jersey, his hair damped with water, as his typical black headband holds his curly hair, so it does not intervene with his eyesight. The calendar marks August 17, 2010. Tottenham Hotspur visit Switzerland's Young Boys in what is the first leg of the Champions' last preliminary round.
Giovani Dos Santos' name appears in Harry Redknapp's starting eleven. The other 10 on the pitch include: Gomes, Bale, Pavlyuchenko, Palacios, Modric, Defoe, Bassong, Dawson, Corluka, Assou-Ekotto.
The game starts intense; the Young Boys' crowd makes its presence felt with constant cheers for its team. Tottenham feels the hostility, the pitch is synthetic, and the atmosphere seems foreign to Redknapp's boys. Giovani touches the ball for the first time and sprints on the right side, the defenders cannot do much, he eludes one, two, just needs to beat the goalkeeper. He shoots, but misses. First dangerous play of the game concludes with a corner kick for the Spurs.
Young Boys accelerates at 120 miles per hour; they have total control of the game the second after Giovani's scare. The first goal falls, then the second, and within a blink of an eye Spurs are down 3-0, while Young Boys' tempest continues. Harry's countenance is lost; his team is on the verge of elimination.
As the second half begins, Tottenham breaks one in, but Giovani has nothing to do with the goal. He hides, he does not shout, he does not show initiator signs. The soccer language is not enough; he needs something else. Pavlyuchenko rockets one and leaves the score 3-2. Redknapp's face is no longer pallid.
Giovani leaves the pitch, knowing he did not showcase his best version. Spurs needed that ruthless Gio to worry Young Boys' right flank players, but he played an irregular game. The next game, played at White Hart Lane, Redknapp does not select him to play, and Spurs finish with a comfortable victory of 4-0.
After a phenomenal preseason, Giovani is left on the bench and his playing time is cut short. He arrived at Racing during the January transfer window, and in Santander, Gio enchanted with his assists and goals.
As the deadline for the transfer window approached this past Wednesday, the chances of Giovani staying at White Hart Lane were scarce, maybe even zero. His name was originally listed alongside transferable players, but somewhere along the way Mr. Redknapp changed his mind.
Redknapp declared about Giovani's current situation to BBC5: "I'll give him a chance to demonstrate me that he can be part of the 25 player team." The next day in Warsaw, Giovani declared: "I have been with them for three years, and they usually never put me to play, so I am surprised that all of sudden they say that they do need me."
After the transfer window closed, Tottenham has four forwards listed on its roster: Gio, Defoe, Pavlyuchenko, and Adebayor. If Giovani wants to play on the right flank, where he tends to shine, he needs to win the battle against Aaron Lennon (it should not be new news for him).
Tottenham will be participating in a total of four tournaments: Premier League, Europa League, Carling Cup, and FA Cup. There is bound to be minutes for the footballing artist, title he obtained this past summer against the United States in the Gold Cup final.
On his Twitter account, Santiago de Haro, a good friend of Giovani, tweeted that Giovani se va a partir la m*d$r@ in each training session and opportunity Redknapp gives him. I suggest that that this statement will not be enough. Giovani has the talents and abilities few footballers have, which is unquestionable, and Redknapp knows that better than anyone. Giovani has to do acts on and off the field that will be able to prove Harry wrong. The soccer language is not enough, he has to master English, so he can communicate with his teammates, win their trust. He has to adopt Tottenham and play for its fans; his contract states it is his home therefore he has to maintain a positive attitude.
Redknapp needs to be patient, and not cut a player's opportunities short because of ONE bad game, that is foolish. Giovani is living his best time of his career; it is his moment to shine and not just be another lad, who years ago was regarded as the "next Ronaldinho." Ronaldinho was one, and there is only one Giovani Dos Santos Ramirez.