By Rob Stewart
Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew believes that former Inter defender Davide Santon has the potential to become a “special” player and has tipped the full-back to force his way back into the Italian national side.
As the Magpies prepared for Sunday’s Premier League meeting with Queens Park Rangers at the Sports Direct Arena, Pardew sang Santon’s praises but insisted that the best was yet to come from the 21-year-old who is getting his career back on track after a turbulent few years in Italy.
“Davide is quick enough and strong enough for the Premier League and we might have a player there that develops into something special,” Pardew told Goal.com at Newcastle’s Darsley Park training ground on Tyneside.
“I think that he has just got a confidence in his ability – almost arrogance – that sets him apart. It is almost unbreakable and I would be surprised if he lost his confidence with the ball and I think that he is only going to get better.”
Santon headed to Newcastle from Inter in a £5 million transfer deal last summer and quickly adapted to his new environment and the rigours of the Premier League under Pardew’s auspices.
“I felt that he had lost his way at Inter a little bit. He had broken into the first team so, so young and done so, so well and then found himself out of the side and that is difficult for a young player,” Pardew added.
“So I thought it was important that he came here and that he got the best possible start so therefore I wasn’t going to pitch him in early because I thought he needed time to just take a breather and understand what we do here.
“That was the case, especially defensively because we have got a lot of disciplines in our defending that he needed to get automatic in his game but his talent was there for all to see on his first day.
“Davide is very good with the ball and that is going to be an asset to us and it was in particularly in the second half against Blackburn last Saturday when his runs really changed that game down the left wing.”
Santon, who is six months into a five-year deal, helped Newcastle defeat Premier League champions Manchester United for the first time in 10 years when the Toon Army toasted a 3-0 win earlier this month.
It was a high-profile victory that will enhance his prospects of regaining a place in the Italian squad with the defender having already represented his country six times at senior level as well as playing for the Under-21 side on 15 occasions.
“I think that there are not many players that go out of Italy who have not gone to a club to club like Barcelona and come to a place like Newcastle to get back into or back into the national team,” Pardew continued.
“It will be difficult for him but I think that he can force his way into the Italian national side and I think that he will in due course because the Premier League is the best league in the world and he is not only playing in it but he is playing very, very well.
“He has got some serious tests coming up because we play Spurs soon down at White Hart Lane and that will be a big test for him but it will be a challenge that he should be really relishing.”
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