While Mexico has been rocked by their failure at the Gold Cup and the negative impact it has had with coach Juan Carlos Osorio and the national team overall, they might just have been as rocked by the news that Jonathan Dos Santos signed with the LA Galaxy. Jonathan had been a starter with Villarreal and had one of the best performances for Mexico in the Confederations Cup. The news that a guy that could quite possibly be in the running for the top player in the Mexican national team was taking a huge step backward and going to MLS was a big hit to what had been a very successful transfer seasons so far for Mexicans abroad. But the move wasn't as surprising and most fingers are pointed to his brother, Giovani Dos Santos as the main reason for the move (as well as the huge pay rise).
The brother Dos Santos are very close and it was Gio who had originally done this exact same move when he left Villarreal for the Galaxy in 2015. The move has been a success for him money wise but has been anything but in terms of the National team. Gio, once the most promising Mexican player in years, has known become a villain to some fans, as his production with the national team declines and now is blamed from possibly hampering the promising play of his more important brother.
In 2005, Giovani Dos Santos was the key figure in one of the most historic moments in Mexican football history. Gio was the best player of the U-17 Mexican national team that went to Peru and won the U-17 World Cup. While Gio didn't score, he got the Silver Ball and led the team offensively. The title was Mexico’s first World Cup in any youth category and the win was widely celebrated all through the country, as it looked like it was a new era for Mexican football. The expectations were high for Gio and teammate Carlos Vela and the claims for them to go to the National team were high, especially in the Sven Goran Eriksson era. It wasn't until the 2009 Gold Cup under Javier Aguirre that Gio would shine and lead the team to the title. After the Gold Cup, Gio became a starter and main player for the NT and would have a solid career with the national team, although maybe didn't meet the expectation people had for him. This might also be because his club career was always a roller coaster, with important play in club but never settling in one. He left Barcelona for Tottenham, a club in which he could never get playing time. A busy off the field life didn't help his reputation either. Tottenham's coach Harry Redknapp complained about his off the field activities and news about romantic escapades with singer Belinda, as well as a famous picture of him drunk to the point of needing help to be placed in the cab all came out to the surface during his terrible tenure in that club. Still, there were successful moves to Ipswich, Galatasaray, Racing de Santander, Mallorca and finally Villarreal, but none of them were long term.
At the national team, however, it was anything but. He went to the 2010 World Cup and had a good competition. In 2011 he was key in winning the Gold Cup. That Gold Cup might have been Mexico's best performance in the competition and it was capped by a 4-2 victory in the final against the US. In that game, Dos Santos sealed the win with one of the best goals in Mexican history.
He was the best player in the Olympic team that won the gold until an injury in the Semifinal against Japan made him miss the all important final (which then gave the most attention to Olympic final hero Oribe Peralta). He still was a constant starter during a terrible 2013 but was good enough to bounce back and have a great 2014 World Cup, where he was unlucky to be wrongly ruled offside twice against Cameroon. He bounced back and scored the first goal (and only goal) against the Netherlands in the Round of 16. Coach Miguel Herrera's decision to sub him out was widely seen as the turning point that ended up costing Mexico the victory.
In 2015 everything changed. In the summer, Gio was the first major Mexican player since Rafael Marquez to be seduced by the constant allure of MLS money, as they looked for a Mexican player that helps them in the Mexican market as he moved from Villarreal to the LA Galaxy. For the first time in his career, Gio was the main star in a team. Still MLS, an inferior league to even Liga MX, would mean a huge drop in level from La Liga. Dos Santos played well in the league but there was always the fear that it would hamper him with the NT. Indirectly it did but not because of level of play but injuries, as those caused him to miss the 2015 Gold Cup and the 2016 Copa America. Then in 2017 the fear became a reality when he had his first major tournament in the Confederations Cup. While Gio showed glimpses of his talent, he was the biggest disappointment in the tournament for the Mexican national team. His play against Portugal and New Zealand was very poor and he looked out of step compared to his Euro teammates. He improved somewhat in the semifinal against Germany but only for a half, during the second half he dropped his level again and had to be subbed out.
Then after Mexico's summer performances was derided by most fans, the news came that Jonathan had joined his brother with the Galaxy. Unlike Gio, Jonathan's performance had been among the best of the tournament. He was the brightest spot in the midfield and was already coming from a good season with Villarreal, all of which meant that he was on the way to be a solid player for the team. Thus the move to the Galaxy was unexplainable for most, and in that respect, for many people 2017 was a year in which Giovani Dos Santos gave the National team more trouble than help.
So is Gio a villain and to blame for Jonathan's move? The answer should be no. Jonathan is 27 and it's his prerogative to move. Also personally people can definitely see the appeal of moving to a place for a better salary and less workload. Still, football wise it's not a good move but that's something Jonathan has to deal with. In the same way Gio had to deal with the consequences of his move. The fact is that since his move in 2015, his production with the national team has been almost indiscernible. Getting his brother to join the Galaxy just adds to a negative turn in his career. Still he's career before 2015 was admirable and he already placed his footprints in the long history of the national team. Unfortunately, those prints look likely to be in the past.