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Newcastle United: What’s In Store For Davide Santon?

Davide Santon against Sundeland

Few would have expected the transfer of Davide Santon to Newcastle United in August 2011. But it happened.

By the time he arrived, Santon had built a reputation in Italy as a potential star of the future, impressing in both Inter’s Primavera side and eventually the first team. The customary, wearisome tag line had been applied to the 20 year old as well, this one proclaiming him as ‘the next Paolo Maldini’. Such compliments, although widely spurted as soon any young, talented footballer impresses, seemed to be accurately bestowed upon Santon. Displays of his natural fitness and energy, as well as pace, work rate and ability to bomb up and down the wing impressed greatly.

Against Manchester United in the 2009 Champions League, Santon managed a feat only a few have accomplished-to keep Cristiano Ronaldo quiet. He expertly achieved this, along with a number of plaudits including admiration from Ronaldo himself. Defensively solid, but dangerous going forward, it was a match which saw the rest of Europe take notice of the youngster. During his time at Inter, Jose Mourinho used Davide Santon as a full back and as a wing back, showing off his versatility which would feature more and more, enabling him to gain additional praise from the likes of Marcelo Lippi and The Special One himself.

Santon notched up 40 appearances for Inter, as well as 11 with Cesena during a loan spell in 2011, but this could have been far greater had it not been for the odd injury. The Italian spent a good few months out at the start of the 2009-2010 season with a knee injury which put a halt on any great run of form. Although he returned in the January of the same season, this was a rushed decision, and Santon injured the same knee putting him out for another five weeks. As a result, the youngster started the following season as back up to the favoured Cristian Chivu and Maicon, and made appearances in a more attacking position, but only on occasion. The January transfer window of 2011 saw Davide Santon make the loan move to Cesena, where he would play out the rest of the season. This perhaps was the move which alerted Alan Pardew to his potential availability.

New Inter manager Gian Piero Gasperini decided not to use Santon for the upcoming season when he retured from his loan spell, and accepted the bid of around €6million from the English Premier side. To this day many see this as Pardew’s finest purchase; a fine, young cultured full back with a good level of experience both in the Champions League and with Inter, as well as international experience at all levels with the Italian national side. And Santon has not disappointed, with over 50 appearances and a steady level of form, the 22 year old has become a favourite in the North East, and there is a sense of intrigue to play him in a more attacking role as he naturally wanders forward and has an eye for a cross, as well as creative strengths; whether this is on the left or right of the pitch. Without doubt, Newcastle fans can look to the 2013-2014 season being assured of having a quality young player, assuming Davide Santon stays.

A poor campaign in 2012-2013 saw Newcastle end the season 16th in the Premier League, a dreadful season especially compared with the 5th placed end to the season prior. This had an effect on Santon too, with the second half of the season not presenting the best the Italian has to offer. It is clear Santon has all the talents and abilities to be a star for any team, and at 22, still has time to grab trophies and success. This could be doubtful with Newcastle, however. Santon has fairly recently muttered interest in returning to Italy, and with clubs reportedly showing interest, the lure of a return to his homeland could be attractive. If Newcastle end the upcoming season the same way as their last campaign, then there is no incentive for Santon to stay; quite the contrary. Of course, Alan Pardew introduced a lot if new faces from overseas last term which, in theory, should now have had time to blend and settle into the pace of the game over here, as well as gel more as a team during pre-season.

With the new season looming, it’s anyone’s guess what kind of season The Magpies will have, and whether this will be a significant turning point for a potential world class player.

Watch his performance against Manchester United: