There are plenty of players in the world who have ups and downs in their careers. Christian Santos is a bit different than the others, with the high quality of his football and intensity of his injuries creating a different story. Having come back and getting into shape after a season on the sidelines with a major injury, he’s already proven that he is a great professional.
Christian was born in Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela but his family migrated to Germany when he was 6 years old. After their immigration to Germany, he began his academy career at Arminia Bielefeld. After 4 seasons with the academy, he reached the second team and with his almost flawless performances, sealed a move to Belgium. Belgium is one of the best places for a youngster to improve and reach his peak and Santos did just that. He impressed in his spell at KAS Eupen in the Belgian second division. He played in 78 games and scored 28 goals while also providing 10 assists. After this amazing period of his career, he got a chance to sign a contract with Waasland-Beveren which gave him a chance to showcase his talents in the Belgian first division but injury prevented him from playing until February. He wasn’t very lucky that season and had to play with the second team until the end of the season as per instructions from the manager. Due to his situation in the team he wasn’t happy at Waasland-Beveren and in the summer transfer season he tried to move away. NEC Nijmegen decided to take a chance on him and he signed a contract for a year with an option for a season more with the Dutch club.
After spending a season on the sidelines due to serious injury and playing a bit part role in the second team, he didn’t play a game, score goals or provide an assist. The mental aspect of dealing with an injury is usually overlooked but Santos’ tenacity in bouncing back is a testament to mental endurance. Reveling in the club’s positive environment, he not only matched his former performance but exceeded it and reached the peak of his career.
From the technical point of view, the Venezuelan international is a very complete player. He can play as a striker or a right winger but where he excels is on the left wing and the number 10 position where he is playing at NEC Nijmegen. He is left footed and boasts fantastic shooting ability with the stronger foot. Santos is also very capable in the air. The numerous goals with his head every year is largely down to the positions he takes up in the penalty area. He is very intelligent with his movement, opportunistic, and a good team player. When he plays as a right winger, he is adept at cutting infield as you’d expect from a left footed player. Coupled with a lethal left foot, and the sight of Santos cutting in from the left and letting fly is a common one. His forward runs with or without the ball are deadly. The 27 year-old is a very versatile player as well and with the ability to play in every position up front, he has a great chance of becoming a rotational member at numerous mid-table clubs from the top leagues.
Although he didn’t get too many chances in the first eleven at the start of the season, in 24 games this season he’s chalked up 21 goals and 10 assists. This, despite the fact that he doesn’t take penalties. Of course, he will be revalued this summer, after playing against teams like Brazil, Peru and Colombia.
Santos is very methodical with his nutrition, workouts, etc. being obsessed with his preparation. That’s one of the biggest factors aiding his return from a major injury. His teammates, coaches and directors have all acclaimed him to be a great professional who takes care of himself as well as possible. His return to top level football owes much to this amazing level of professionalism. You’ll never see him going out if there is a training or a match the day after. With a great respect for his profession, he is always prepared to give his all in front of his fans.
What does the Future Hold?
From now on, Christian will only get better. At the age of 27, I can’t see him playing for Barcelona, Real Madrid or Manchester Untied but he definitely has the potential to feature in the best leagues in the world. If he can avoid the any possible long term injury, he can move to mid table Bundesliga or Premier League clubs. He can make a great impact at Eredivisie, as well. As such his career appears to be stuck at a crossroads. With his professional attitude both on the off the pitch, he deserves to play at top level leagues. Injury was a set back but from now on, he will appreciate every second on the pitch and could become an even better professional as a result. In this summer transfer window, I expect him to move to Spain or England and would back him to make an impact wherever he does end up.
Merk Conker is an author at Outside of the Boot as well as a contributor to Turkish websitewww.yarisaha.com. He is a huge fan of English football, specially Liverpool.
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