Updates from Saturday, July 12
Dos Santos posted a goodbye letter to Barcelona fans on Twitter, according to the team's official site:
You took me in when I was just 12 years old and we have spent no less than half of my life together! They’ve been 12 marvellous years, where I have grown both as a footballer and as a person. From the moment I landed in this magical city I have never stopped learning, making friends and enjoying life, but also working hard to achieve a dream that only a few privileged people in this world can enjoy – playing for the Barça first team.
A dream that has come true on the back of hard work, sacrifice and also the utmost determination. The same determination that led me to turn down the different offers I received, because my obsession was always to give everything I have got to you.
Your land has always felt like home to me, and I only have words of thanks for everyone who made it possible for this dream to come true: my team-mates, coaches, medical team, utility staff, directors, journalists, fans and my family, and in general everyone involved with Barça. I want to thank them all for this fantastic adventure and making it all possible.
But the time has come for a new professional challenge at Villarreal, which I am looking forward to and I am ready to face new responsibilities. New challenges await me there, but whatever happens, you will always be in my heart.
Visca el Barça!"
Jonathan dos Santos is heading to Villarreal after the side reached a transfer agreement with their La Liga rivals Barcelona for the 24-year-old midfielder.
Barca announced the deal on their official site and noted they held the right to get involved should Dos Santos be sold by the Submarino Amarillo:
FC Barcelona and Villarreal CF have agreed to terms for the player Jonathan dos Santos. The transfer fee, which is a combination of a fixed sum and variables, could reach 2 million euros, and FC Barcelona reserve the right to be involved in the possible future sale of the player.
He will join his brother, Giovani dos Santos, at El Madrigal. Both players started their careers in the Barcelona youth system. Giovani has made six stops since that point, including Villarreal, while this will mark the first time his younger brother played for another side.
There were hopes Dos Santos would eventually carve out a role for himself at Camp Nou. He had the talent necessary to fill a holding role as a reliable defensive midfielder with strong distribution skills, but the depth in the Barcelona midfield made it tough to find playing time.
He appeared in fewer than 30 matches across all competitions in five seasons with the first team. He got into just three matches as a substitute this past season.
Will Dos Santos thrive following the move?
The toughest thing for any young player is developing without consistent playing time. That's why the move to Villarreal makes sense for all sides.
Dos Santos moves to a club where he should be more heavily involved on a weekly basis while also getting a chance to play alongside his brother again. As long as he finds a more consistent role, he should be able to display the talent Barcelona saw in him as a youth player.
For the Blaugrana, they get an immediate transfer fee and then can still be involved should Dos Santos be sold again. It ensures they can recoup more value should his stock rise and turn him into a coveted commodity down the line.
The move doesn't come as a total surprise. The player's father said last week that they were pushing for this particular move, per Barca Stuff:
Zizinho (father Dos santos): "We're not in a hurry, but we'll tell Barça we want to go to Villarreal so Jonathan can play with his brother."— barcastuff (@barcastuff) July 4, 2014
Tom Marshall of ESPN FC believes it's a good move that could eventually lead to more involvement with the national team:
Villarreal move great for Jonathan Dos Santos. Potentially important for #Mex as well, if he can get regular minutes.— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) July 9, 2014
Ultimately, Dos Santos probably stayed at Barcelona for too long. He was waiting for a chance that never came when he could have been honing his skills elsewhere. But moving on from a club of that caliber isn't an easy thing to do.
The question now is how quickly he can complete the transition and start to showcase top form. Having his brother on the team should help. It wouldn't be a surprise if he eventually becomes a member of the starting lineup on a semi-regular basis by midseason.
His development has spent a couple years stuck in neutral. A fresh start is exactly what he needed to get his career back on track.