Joey Barton may not agree but Newcastle fans have plenty of reasons to be excited about the player once dubbed ‘the new Maldini’…

While the Geordie nation have been left dissapointed by their club’s low key approach to the transfer window, the Ashley regime have secured some talented players from europe, not least Italian international Davide Santon.

The 20-year-old joined from Inter Milan, where he made 40 appearances in three years, and signed a five-year-contract on Tyneside.

Santon has already earned seven caps for his country and was considered to be the best young fullback in World Football before he lost his place in the Inter side under Jose Mourinho.

Aged just 18 he had broke into Inter’s team, making his European debut against Manchester United and earned praise from Cristiano Ronaldo after his defensive performance had kept the Portuguese superstar quiet: “I was impressed by Santon, he is a really interesting lad and a great footballer,” explained Ronaldo.

Even greater praise was afforded by then Italy coach Marcelo Lippi who described Santon as the new Maldini.

Lippi said: He (Santon)  is a predestined that reminds of a young Paolo Maldini.”

After a run in the Inter team that won the Scudetto in the 2008-09 season Santon fell victim of Jose Mourinho’s more pragmatic approach and Christian Chivu became the club’s first choice left-back.

He and Mario Balotelli had both fallen out of favor with Mourinho, who said: “Santon and Balotelli represent Inter’s future. Right now, they don’t have the mental qualities to become champions.”

Santon was not forgotten however and still made 24 appearances for Inter before joining Cesena on loan in January 2011. The youngster was part of the deal that saw Yugo Nagatomo join the European Champions from Cesena.

The spell showcased Santon’s talents but was a step backwards after his exploits at the San Siro. It seemed as if the huge spotlight on Santon was curtailing his development and the comparison with Maldini was probably unfair on a player who at the time was barely 18.

Now a £5.3million move to Newcastle will hopefully reignite the Italian’s career. He undoubtedly has the talent but does he have the temperament? While he has taken a step away from the Italian limelight, this will be no easy task.

The Premier League is fast and furious while Newcastle is considered one of the most passionate and intense places to play football in the country. But there was no better way than to introduce himself to the Geordie faithful than confirming he had never seen a Mackem in Milan.

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