Giovani Dos Santos is in line for his third appearance in a row for Tottenham Hotspur in their League Cup clash at Stoke City tonight. Admittedly, the first two appearances have been as part of what amounted to a reserve side in the Europa League, and a 10-minute cameo at the back end of the 4-0 hammering of Liverpool on Sunday.
On both of those occasions he has failed to shine, and while this is at least partially his own fault, surely it is time Harry Redknapp gave him a proper chance to prove his worth at Spurs.
He has played only 23 times for Spurs, scoring just one goal, since his transfer from Barcelona in the summer of 2008. In the season prior to that, he played 37 times for Barca, scoring 4 goals.
As a graduate of Barcelona’s famed La Masla academy, it goes without saying that he has ability. All anyone needs to do in search of proof is to watch his performances for Mexico at the 2010 World Cup and the 2011Gold Cup. So why doesn’t that ability shine through when he plays for Tottenham?
Firstly, he has never had a consistent run of games in a Spurs shirt. During his stay at White Hart Lane, he has been loaned out three times. For the rest of the time (when not out on loan) he has never played more than six games in one season for Tottenham. It seems now though that, with the injuries to Aaron Lennon and Steven Pienaar, as well as the inconsistent fitness levels of Rafael Van Der Vaart and Niko Krancjar, Harry Redknapp is finally willing to give Gio a chance. So can he take it?
Being thrown in with the kids in Greece in the Europa League tie against PAOK Salonika last week cannot have been helpful. The style of the game might have suited him, but the standard of his team-mates did not. In order to really reap the benefits of his potential, he needs to play with the first team. And even though tonight’s game is a League Cup match, the Tottenham XI will surely resemble something slightly stronger than last week.
Secondly, and this is partly Harry’s job and partly Gio’s himself, Dos Santos needs to have more responsibility on the pitch. The reason he is able to shine when he plays for his country is that he is given the ball regularly. They look to him to be their creative spark. With Spurs likely to be without Luka Modric and Gareth Bale tonight, someone needs to take on this role. Normally, Harry patrols the touchline screaming “Give it to Gareth!”, but they won’t be able to do that against Stoke if he isn’t on the pitch. So hopefully Dos Santos can step up and deliver.
The dramas of the transfer window are over, but if this little Mexican can finally fulfil his potential, he could almost be the new creative signing Spurs fans were crying out for.