While you may feel it is impossible to go under the radar at Newcastle United given the amount of attention on the team from the St James’ Park faithful, I would argue that Davide Santon has managed to do just that. The 21-year-old arrived at the end of August and had a quiet start to his Newcastle career, but somehow has managed to make himself an automatic starter and, after just a handful of months, looks like he’s been playing for the Magpies for years. Have we underestimated how good the decision to bring Santon in during the summer was?
Unsurprisingly Demba Ba is always going to win the award for the best signing of the season. After him it’s Yohan Cabaye who has garnered the most attention out of the new players at the club, and rightfully so. But that means Davide Santon was pushed to the backburner somewhat, and the niggling injuries he had the start of his career didn’t help. He didn’t make his first league start until December and playing away to Norwich as part of a makeshift back four wasn’t the ideal introduction. When he was fit, an in-form Ryan Taylor was preferred at left back, so Santon was left sitting on the bench, but that isn’t the case anymore.
You could argue that Taylor’s form and Alan Pardew’s decision to blood the Italian slowly at Newcastle has worked like a dream for Santon, as four-and-half-months on from his move, he’s looking like a really tasty player. In the last two Premier League games against QPR and Manchester United in particular, Santon has looked a class above at times, solid in defence and dangerous in attack. He is flourishing alongside Jonas Gutierrrez on the left and the loss of Jose Enrique now hardly seems to be remembered at all.
It is easy to forget how young Santon is, as when you arrive from Serie A powerhouse Inter Milan you’re expected to be an instant hit. That’s something Santon wasn’t through no real fault of his own, but now his presence is certainly being felt at Newcastle. Once again the Newcastle scouts have worked wonders and Pardew has made another excellent addition to his squad. £5 million is a bit of a snip too, considering he’s already won seven international caps for Italy.
The pleasing thing with Davide Santon is that you feel that there’s plenty more to come from him, which doesn’t mean he isn’t already contributing a lot. It just means that he could go on to become a top player in the Premier League, but he won’t be able to go under the radar for much longer. Once again it’s time for the Newcastle scouting system to pat themselves on the back, as Santon looks like £5m exceptionally well spent.