Apparently Giovani Dos Santos is still not in shape

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While I was tempted to find a post from 2009 that would work for this one, I’m going to have a crack at giving the ‘Giovani Dos Santos is out of shape’ story a new twist. Because apparently, the Mexican international is still nowhere near his peak condition, with his new manager (Mallorca’s Joaquin Caparros) euphemistically saying the 23-year-old needs to get “leaner” to increase his “explosiveness.”

I know. I’m totally shocked by this news, too.

For every second of his professional career, Dos Santos has needed to get leaner to increase explosiveness. Most people have saved their breath and just called him out of shape. While he’s obviously improved his fitness over the last two years (no longer showing up for international duty visibly overweight), his fitness is clearly not up to his coach’s standards.

In fairness, it is a high standard, though it’s one you accept by being a professional soccer player. You find very few perpetually out of shape footballers. The game is far too demanding to play with marginal fitness, particularly at Premier League and La Liga levels.

Ever since moving to Tottenham Hotspur from Barcelona in 2008, the attacker has failed to give himself the best chance of earning playing time. Bolstered by occasional spectacular performances for Mexico, Dos Santos has been given reason to believe he doesn’t need to be in prime condition to contribute. That approach might work in CONCACAF, but it’s not good enough for England or Spain, part of the reason he made only 31 all-competition appearances for Spurs before being sold to Mallorca.

Thus far, Dos Santos has only made three appearances for Mallorca, though he showed his potential value in creating two goals earlier this year against Sevilla. Since, injuries have kept him from contributing regularly, and if you read between the Spanish lines of Caparros’s comments, you see see concern that Dos Santos’s lack of fitness is contributing to his slow recovery.

At some point, though, this annual “Gio’s out of shape” revelation becomes a non-story. It’s relevant now because Dos Santos just moved to Mallorca, was supposed to have a new start, and was going to show Spurs had been sitting on a gem. Perhaps predictably, it took only a few months to be reminded Dos Santos’s problems transcend Tottenham.

He is the most talented player in CONCACAF, and over the last few years, Dos Santos has also been the region’s best player. But success at club level demands more than the short bursts needed to succeed on the international stage.

Only 23, he still has time to adapt, but in the seventh year of his professional career, Dos Santos may just be what he is. We talk as if his fitness issues are inhibiting his potential, but maybe this is his potential. Maybe Dos Santos is destined to be a hypothetical.

Men in Blazers: Jurgen Klopp talks loss of Coutinho and more

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Roger Bennett talks with manager Jurgen Klopp about revolutionizing Liverpool, his Greatest Show on Turf-esque offense, the loss of Philippe Coutinho and how he keeps football in perspective.

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MLS: Higuain extends with Crew, Royer gets new deal with Red Bulls

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Two key midfielders earned new deals on Thursday, as two of the Eastern Conference’s recent successes helped solidify for their attacks for the next few years.

The Columbus Crew extended Designated Player attacker Federico Higuain through the 2019 MLS season.

Higuain has been with the Crew since 2012, when the Argentine joined the club from Colon de Santa Fe in his native country.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls extended Daniel Royer’s contract, as the Austrian winger in the midst of his third season with Jesse Marsch’s group.

Thus far, Royer has tallied 17 goals in all competitions for the Red Bulls, including 15 during the 2017 campaign, where the former Midtjylland player finished second on the team in goals behind Bradley Wright-Phillips.

UEL: Griezmann nabs crucial away goal vs. Arsenal, Marseille cruises

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A game of back-and-forth at the Emirates Stadium set up an enticing second leg in the UEFA Europa League semifinals, while a Ligue 1 side positioned itself well to move into the final.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

Arsenal and Atletico Madrid settled for a 1-1 draw in London, as Antoine Griezmann’s late strike leveled the match for the Spanish side.

The Gunners looked on their way to a victory when Alexandre Lacazette‘s goal just beyond the hour mark put Arsene Wenger‘s men in front.

The result sets up a strong showdown for the two giants in a week’s time, although Arsenal will feel it left something on the table after racking up 26 shots (seven on target) on the day, particularly after Sime Vrsaljko was sent off after 10 minutes for the visitors when he picked up a second yellow card.

Meanwhile, Florian Thauvin and Clinton Njie gave Marseille a 2-0 win over Red Bull Leipzig, giving the French side the edge it sought out ahead of the competition finale.

The two clubs will meet again at Red Bull Arena Salzburg for the second leg.


Arsenal 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Marseille 2-0 Red Bull Salzburg

Europa League, LIVE: Arsenal, Marseille host first legs

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Diego Costa brings a solid career record against Arsenal back to London in a bid to ruin Arsene Wenger‘s farewell season at the Emirates Stadium.

[ FOLLOW: Arsenal vs. Atleti ]

The now-Atletico Madrid forward returns to England on Thursday as his La Liga outfit aims to stop Arsenal from reaching next month’s Europa League Final in Lyon.

[ FOLLOW: Marseille vs. Red Bull Salzburg ]

That’s a 3:05 p.m. ET kickoff, the same as Marseille’s date with Red Bull Salzburg in France.

ARSENAL-ATLETICO MADRID LINEUPS

Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Wilshere, Ramsey, Welbeck, Ozil, Lacazette. Subs: Cech, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Chambers, Kolasinac, Iwobi, Nketiah.

Atleti: Oblak, Lucas, Godin, Gimenez, Vrsaljko, Saul, Thomas, Koke, Correa, Griezmann, Gameiro. Subs: Werner, Savic, Gabi, Vitolo, Olabe, Torres, Costa.