The recent departure of Davide Santon has caught more attention more than the arrivals of Diego Forlan and Andrea Poli. Forlan would be seen as a good short-term signing and I hope he still has some good years left in him rather than being on the way down in his career graph. Poli, on the other hand, is on the up. I honestly have not seen enough of hm to pass a judgement on him but the fact that he is Italian and a young talent that I have a lot of good things about is enough to keep me excited and hoping for great things for him and Inter.
Picture 1: Santon in his debut season getting the better of Milan's Seedorf
I am sad to see Santon leave and sadder to see his drop in the pecking order at Inter. He was given his debut by Jose Mourinho in 2009 in a Coppa Italia tie against Roma and he went from strength to strength from there and caught everyone’s attentions culminating in a fantastic game against the then reigning European champions, Manchester United man-marking Cristiano Ronaldo and holding his own against the then reigning Ballon D’Or winner.
Picture 2: Santon holding his own against Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League in 2009
He went on to win his first senior honour, the 2008-09 Scudetto and was called up by Italy for the 2009 Confederations Cup. He was likened to Paolo Maldini by then Italy coach, Marcello Lippi and the tag of the “new Maldini” stuck to him.
Picture 3: Santon on his Italy debut against Northern Ireland in June 2009
What followed were a couple of seasons of great disappointments for the youngster.Eventhough Inter went on to have a majestic, memorable and remarkable 2009-10 season, winning the treble, Santon hardly played a part as he was sidelined by knee injuries. The following season, his mentor, Mourinho had left and Santon suffered from a combination of lost of form and confidence and he left for Cesena on loan in January.
Picture 4: Santon while in action for Cesena
It seemed that he had regained his form and confidence from playing regularly for the Seahorses and even got a call-up by new Italy coach Cesare Prandelli for the friendly against Ukraine in March. It seem that under a new management at club level in Gasperini who was known to be favourable to youth, Santon would be given more chances to play but that was not the case and he was sold to Newcastle United.
Santon emerged about a season apart from Balotelli but for me seem to have the right personality and mentality as he was focused, calm, talented and lacked the off-field and on-field fuss that accompanied Balotelli giving one the image of a well-grounded professional destined for the very top but it is sad to see how his star has waned. Inter have never been known to be a club that had the patience to give youth a chance, to develop and nurture them. The last player that made it through from the youth ranks was club legend Giuseppe Bergomi all the way back in 1979.
Picture 5: Giuseppe Bergomi in his debut season
One recent example of a promising youngster that Inter let slip would be Andrea Pirlo who went to our arch-rivals, Milan and won the lot and became a world champion in that process.
Picture 6: Andrea Pirlo in action for Inter
Santon had lost form and confidence and it was obvious in his shaky and fragile displays under the reign of Benitez and Leonardo but I felt he needed someone who would put his arm around his shoulder and tell him it will all be alright; a mentor, a father figure ala Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. There was obviously not much faith in his ability and probably his ability to regain his form so he was sold to presumably also regain some money to fall in line under the new UEFA Financial Fair Play rules.
I do hope that Santon would be able to regain his form and go on to fulfil his potential and be the “next Maldini” and not the “next Pasquale”. However I have doubts on whether Newcastle is the right place for him. The club gives an air of instability to those on the outside and is quite “Italian” or shall I say “Palermo” in that sense. The experience in England will surely make him stronger physically, mentally and emotionally but I don’t see him staying too long at Newcastle if he does go on to fulfil his potential. I just hope that he doesn’t come back to bite us by joining one of our arch-rivals in Italy. I do hope to see him back in an Inter jersey in the future. He is only 20 and has still some years in front of him. For now, I do hope his time at Newcastle turns out to be a good one.
Picture 7: Santon with Newcastle manager, Alan Pardew at St.James' Park