Jose Mourinho has expressed his regret that Davide Santon was allowed to leave Inter Milan, suggesting the Newcastle United defender is one of the best young players he has worked with.
Santon joined the Nerazzurri as a 14-year-old, before breaking into the first team under Mourinho. But after struggling with injury after the Portuguese coach’s departure, he was loaned out to Cesena in January 2011 before completing a permanent move to Newcastle that summer.
Defending his record of bringing through young players to FC Inter News, Mourinho cited Santon’s breakthrough at Inter as an example.
"Whenever I find someone who has everything to become a top player and stay in the first team I’ve never held back in giving them a chance,” Mourinho said.
"Maybe in Italy they don’t know what is best. I’m talking about Davide Santon who is now at Newcastle. Santon has suffered two great injuries. However, at 17-years-old everybody was saying that he would become for Inter what Paolo Maldini was for Milan."
After initially struggling to settle on Tyneside, Santon has since broken back into the Italy national team and is now a regular under Alan Pardew for the Magpies.
And the 22-year-old defender, who recently celebrated the birth of his first child, is now eager for the season to get underway as the club look to rectify the mistakes of last season.
"I became a father on May 21 - it was the best day of my life," Santon told the Shields Gazette. "It has been an amazing summer for me. I have spent it with my little daughter and girlfriend. My girlfriend helped me a lot here. It helps on the pitch too. When you are relaxed in your home life, it makes such a difference. I’m really happy. I just looking forward to a great season.
"We can’t be thinking about just staying out of the Championship each year. It’s got to be higher than that. So we’re preparing well for that. In Portugal, it’s been good training. I’m happy for myself because I had three months of not playing. Now I’m back and feeling good."