Santon: I'm not going back to Italy
Newcastle United defender Davide Santon insists he has settled in to life on Tyneside and has no desire to return to his native Italy any time soon.
Santon, 21, joined the Magpies in the summer of 2011 from Inter Milan, and was afforded a gradual transition into the Premier League by Magpies manager Alan Pardew.
He has been linked with a return to Italy during that time but after overcoming the language barrier, with the aid of his English partner and lessons, he is certain his future is with the Magpies.
"Newcastle feels like home. My girlfriend is from the city - a Geordie girl - so I am really settled," Santon told the Evening Chronicle. "I am happy here. I don't miss Italy. I do miss my family, of course, but I really love living here. I don't even mind the weather. It's a bit different, but Milan is cold during the winter.
"I have been here 18 months now and it has gone in no time at all. It was difficult for me when I first got here because I couldn't speak English and that meant it was hard for me to understand what the manager said. But I took lessons straight away and that made it easier, although I don't think my English is that good.
"My girlfriend teaches me so I'm getting better. The first moments in England were not great for me. It was all so different. My cousin was with me at the time, but it wasn't easy. So it's great to be able to say that this feels like home 18 months later. I feel that the fans like me and I think they are fantastic. It is important to get that feeling when you live in the city.
"It's not too difficult because my family, my parents and brother, are coming over for a visit on Christmas Eve," he said, "I will be busy because we have so many games, and big games as well, but I'll still have time to see them. I am used to it by now because there are always a lot of games in England at this time of the year."
Despite Newcastle struggling in the league this season following just four wins from their opening 17 games, Santon also believes that after their improved display against Manchester City last week his team-mates still hold the potential to finish the season in a high position.
"We have Manchester United and Arsenal, so it's an important period for us and we need to do well. I do think we can come back and play as we did last season. I believe we can still finish in a high position," Santon said.
"We do have difficult games coming up, it will be tough, and we must start it by beating QPR. The second half of the Manchester City game was the best we have played. Papiss came really close to making and then they scored with their first real chance in the second half. We had four or five good chances we didn't take and that will hurt you when playing against the big teams.
"I am still a young player. I am only 21, but I think people forget my age because I started playing for Inter Milan when I was 18. There is an impression that I'm maybe 25 so they maybe expect more, but I am still learning the game and there is a lot I have to improve. Newcastle is the perfect team for me to improve myself. This club will help to make me a better player."