Davide Santon 20 Defender Newcastle United
For a short while, Davide Santon was one of the most refined full-backs in Italy, drawing comparisons with Paolo Maldini (from Marcello Lippi no less) and earning caps for the national side. From there however, injury, loss of form and the gruelling task of usurping senior colleagues Christian Chivu and Maicon at a club disjointed following Jose Mourinho’s departure made a difficult couple of seasons for the Bergamo born defender.
Santon certainly required games to get back on track in 2010-11 and a loan spell at Cesena as part of the deal that took Yuto Nagatomo to Milan in January was a step in the right direction. Cards had clearly been marked in Milan though and Santon surprisingly moved to England and an unlikely alliance with Newcastle United during the death throes of the August transfer window.
Doubts remain over long-term fitness and confidence may have taken a dent following his departure from Inter, but a move that some observers considered erroneous might turn out to be just the thing if Santon can recapture some of the sparkle he displayed in Italy.
Yet to start a Premier League match for a resurgent Newcastle, Santon looked physically overawed playing in the Carling Cup against Blackburn Rovers recently. This is an indication of what he will be up against in England and the defender will need to adapt quickly. Alan Pardew’s style of play ensures that wingers Jonas Gutierrez and Gabriel Obertan cover their full backs at all times which will certainly benefit the Italian as he settles in a new country.
Patience from club, player and fans are a must if we are to see the best of a very able player.
“Slowed by a combination of injury, poor form and Rafael Benitez, needs to seize the opportunity afforded him by Newcastle. At his best a superb full-back” - Adam Digby (Journalist)
“The meter's still running on the taxi Spurs fans ordered for Maicon last season, then Nagatomo arrived, and will Zanetti ever retire? So after considering everything in his way, Santon's made a new start in Newcastle. Must toughen up mentally & physically, but he may realise his potential if Toon fans are patient” – Jon Holmes (TEAMtalk.com)
“A class act. If fitness and form can be rediscovered, a smart acquisition” – Jeff Livingstone (IBWM)
D A rotten year but you are a class act with a new start. Make things happen.