Making room for Davide Santon

Posted by Sumeet Paul

In a candid interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday, Italian international Davide Santon revealed that despite being content in England, he would “seriously think about packing my bags for Milan."

Johannes Eisele/Getty Images

The 22-year-old left Italy almost two years ago to join Newcastle United after many deemed him to have failed in reaching his potential with Inter.

Early comparisons were drawn with Milan legend Paolo Maldini, not least for Santon's ability to play left-back despite being right-footed. Ultimately, Santon fell short of the level many envisaged him achieving.

However, without setting the Premier League alight, he has restored his reputation within the Italian media with his consistent performances on Tyneside. Speculation suggested a move to Milan had not been far off in January, with the Rossoneri contemplating the sale of Ignazio Abate to Russian side Zenit.

Milan vice president Adriano Galliani even went as far as to say that Santon "could have been an option, but now that Abate is off the transfer market, we won’t sign him."

Yet while the debate still lingers, the question now is considering the emergence of Mattia De Sciglio, is there room for Santon at Milan?

“I’m really happy in Newcastle. I like the city, the club and the atmosphere. I live like a king . . . and I have a contract until 2016,” he told Gazzetta.

"I’m not sure what would happen if another Italian club came in for me, but I’d seriously think about packing my bags for Milan. I owe Inter a lot. I was happy there, but it is not my fault that I was born as a Milan fan.”

Forever holding a soft spot for players who were Milan fans as youngsters -- a number which seems to grow by the day -- it is difficult not to want to fit Santon into the squad.

For all his improvements the past few years, there are still aspects of Milan's current right-back that are a great source of frustration, including an apparent inability to cross and successfully find a teammate. However, Abate's defensive game has developed significantly and as a result he has become a regular fixture for the Azzurri.

Still only 26, Abate may be entering his peak years as a footballer, but the thought of Santon and De Sciglio holding the fullback positions for the Rossoneri for the next decade is tempting. But is it the right move?

Why not dispose of players surplus to requirements, and have all three together to provide a real strength in depth to cope with injuries and compete on various fronts?

Despite some impressive performances, the task of converting Kevin Constant into a left-back has proved costly at times for Milan.

There is also a danger of forgetting the large number of full-backs still at the club, including Didac Vila and Luca Antonini. Add to that mix Mario Yepes and Daniele Bonera -- some departures would be an instant creation of space to rebuild a Milan defence that requires strengthening.

“(Mario) Balotelli is more mature now. The decision to return was an excellent one for him. The fact that I can go back to playing with Mario would be an extra incentive,” Santon said.

Considering the success Milan have enjoyed by bringing a former Inter player back in Balotelli, it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea to try to repeat it. If Santon is ready to pack his bags, then Galliani should prepare a summer move.

Should Milan bring Santon back to Italy? Or is it unnecessary considering the current squad?

For all the latest news and views on Milan, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty

ESPN Conversations