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Scout Report: Davide Santon

Who is Davide Santon?

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Full Name

Davide Santon

Date & Place Of Birth

Davide was born on the 2nd of January, 1991 in Portomaggiore, Italy.

Playing History

Well, unless you have been hiding under a rock for the last ten years you were probably already aware that Davide Santon once played for the football team on the dark side of the North East, but we won't hold that against him.

He actually started out life with Ravenna FC before moving to Inter Milan at the age of fourteen, where he made his name as a youth player and forced his way into the first team picture there under the infamous Jose Mourinho, who has gone on record to say how big a fan he is of the Italian full back.

Santon featured fairly regularly for Inter Milan in the early days of his career, going on to win the Serie A title in 2009 under the leadership of Mourinho, and in his second season Milan not only regained the Italian league title but also won the Champions League in a final against Bayern Munich - unfortunately, Santon did not feature in that game but as he had played in several other Champions League matches he was awarded a winners medal regardless.

With Mourinho leaving the club that summer Santon was not fancied by the new head coach, and as a result he was sent out on loan to fellow Seria A side Cesena in January of 2011 where he remained until the end of the season, playing eleven times.

With Davide firmly out of the first team picture at Internationale, Newcastle United came calling and he left the San Siro to join up with Alan Pardew's side on a five year contract.

Santon became a firm fan favourite at Newcastle but was rather unfairly used as a left back, despite being primarily right footed. Across three seasons Davide made almost one hundred appearances for the Tynesiders, before finding himself out of Alan Pardew's plans, inevitably returning back to Inter Milan where he has spent the last two seasons largely as a backup option under Roberto Mancini.

Aside from his club career, Santon has represented Italy on eight occasions, last appearing for the Azzuri in 2013 in a game against the Netherlands.

Physically, What Is He Like?

Santon is rather tall, standing at six foot one. He's lightening quick and has a great turn of pace, which these days is a basic requirement for any full back to be successful in the Premier League.

Despite being fairly big, Santon isn't particularly physically imposing - from speaking to my Newcastle supporting friends they admit he was, at times, a little lightweight and often struggled when facing brutish forwards.

What Has Been Said?

The news of Santon's transfer to Sunderland broke in the Italian media yesterday, information that was given credence when Sunderland Echo writer Chris Young tweeted this yesterday evening:

For Chris to say that, I am fairly confident that this one will happen at some point very soon - perhaps even this weekend.

How Did He Fare Last Season?

Well, it hasn't been great for Davide since returning to Milan around eighteen months ago. Last season he was largely used as a backup option behind the likes of Juan Jesus, Yuto Nagatomo, Danilo D'Ambrosio and loanee Alex Telles, and as a result he was heavily linked with a move to Watford in January.

Santon, quite simply, has suffered from not being one of Mancini's favourites.

Where Will He Fit Into Sam Allardyce's Squad?

In terms of quality and depth, the weakest position in our squad is at right full back, and with DeAndre Yedlin returning to Tottenham Hotspur the need for an established player in that area has become a huge priority for Sam Allardyce this summer.

Billy Jones, as hard-working as he is, will be restricted to becoming just a backup option next season and Adam Matthews is likely to leave. Though Santon was primarily a left back at Newcastle, he'll be coming to Sunderland to take up that right attacking-full back berth, whilst providing specialist cover for Patrick Van Aanholt on the other side of the pitch.

Injury History

Santon's record isn't bad. He has had only one bad injury, and that was towards the end of his time at Newcastle. Whilst preparing for pre-season in 2014 Santon suffered knee damage, an issue which kept him out of action until December of that year.

By the time Davide returned to first team training at Newcastle he found that Alan Pardew had already established other players in his full-back positions, and as a result he was sent out on loan almost immediately to Inter Milan.

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Video Footage

Conclusion

Though some Sunderland supporters were hoping that we'd go back in for DeAndre Yedlin, you have to admit that the fee being quoted for Santon is relatively small (some outlets are saying €2m) and that weighing it all up, this is a good deal for us.

Santon has already lived in the North East of England, and his partner is from here. The adjustment shouldn't really be that great and he offers us something that Sam Allardyce sees as a priority in his full backs - he's attack-minded, has pace and can be a danger from wide areas.

The problem, I'm told, is that he isn't great defensively. On top of that, he's barely played in the last two years, though with a full pre-season behind him he should be fine. The fact he isn't the best defender doesn't particularly concern me, not having seen the development of Patrick Van Aanholt and DeAndre Yedlin last season under the stewardship of Big Sam.

If Allardyce was able to mould Van Aanholt into a competent, consistent full back then I believe that he can work his magic on just about anyone.

Moving to Sunderland represents a fresh start for a man who really needs one, whilst Sunderland are getting a good player on the cheap that is better than the other right backs we have. Win-win.