The one time dubbed “new Facchetti” unexpectedly signs for Newcastle

The comparisons to Paolo Maldini and Giacinto Facchetti were genuine such was his meteoric rise under the guidance of Jose Mourinho. His versatility made him an even greater prospect as he appeared comfortable on the right or left side of defence. Davide Santon has now left the Peninsula in search of kick-starting a career that initially promised so much but has meandered rather than soared in the past few years. His move to Newcastle United is quite a detour from the career path that many had already mapped out for him when he burst onto the scene in 2009.
Santon’s rise to the Inter first team was extraordinary. A month after his first-team debut, Santon frustrated Cristiano Ronaldo and helped Inter obtain a clean sheet against a Ronaldo led Manchester United. Santon continued his impressive form up until the conclusion of the season and was being tipped as a future mainstay of the national team, as well as earning compliments from all quarters for his professional attitude and a calmness rarely seen in an individual so young.
After making his national team debut against Northern Ireland, Italy Coach Marcello Lippi spoke of Santon as a “predestinato” who would go onto to achieve great things in his career. However all the praise lavished upon Santon may well have contributed to his fall from grace since. Injury and a lack of form derailed the following campaign for Santon and he struggled to get back into the first-team picture for the Nerazzurri. Unfortunately, when Santon was handed opportunities, he failed to live up to the standards he had set before and he continued to be a peripheral figure at the club. Loan moves were mooted in a hope of reinvigorating much needed confidence in the youngster. Eventually, he would move on loan to Cesena in January this year. The spell brought up more questions than answers for the player and it would appear he is already a character undergoing a rebuild despite his young age.
There was talk of a possible season-long loan to a different Serie A club but such a move failed to materialise and now Santon has moved on a permanent transfer to the Premier League with Newcastle United. The predestinato that Marcello Lippi spoke of in 2009 has toiled as of recent times but is only 20 years of age and so there is plenty of time for him to achieve great things in the game.
The Premier League is of course a huge opportunity for the youngster to work on his game and hopefully prove the critics wrong. The hope for Santon is that there is no lasting damage and that he can prove himself in the Premier League and return to the international fold.
The Maldini and Facchetti comparisons are now long gone and Santon would do well to forget such compliments and work on his game. When most Italian players leave the peninsula they often return, at some stage, and Santon will be hoping that when he does go back to his home country, he’ll be holding his head high rather than slung low with the burdens of “What if…?” questions.

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