PLAYER PROFILE – FRANCO DI SANTO

By Rowan Farnham-Long
Feb 1st, 2008

After adding Branislav Ivanovic and Nicolas Anelka to Chelsea’s squad in the January transfer window, Avram Grant also completed the signing of 18-year-old Franco Di Santo to very little media fanfare. But with the young Argentinean striker tipped by many to emulate the legendary Diego Maradona, he could very well prove to be a very shrewd purchase. In this digital age we live in, many fans have already monitored Di Santo’s progress on YouTube, and watching some of the goal-laden videos available shows that his future, and now Chelsea’s, should be very bright indeed.

Di Santo was born in Mendoza, Argentina on April 7th 1989 and began his fledgling footballing career at his local club, Godoy Cruz de Mendoza.

He started off in the youth team at Mendoza but was soon snapped up by Chilean side Audax Italiano, based in Santiago. Di Santo’s ambition was evident as he had no qualms about moving away from home at such a young age, and his gamble was to pay off in spectacular fashion.

Di Santo soon became one of the rising stars in the Chilean championship and after scoring key goals for Audax last season, his stock started to rise. Scouts started to recognise the talent and potential Di Santo was displaying, and soon enough a move away from Chile looked to be the most likely outcome.

Despite interest from the likes of Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Barcelona, Real Madrid and a whole host of big European sides, Chelsea were the team who worked the hardest and managed to secure the youngster’s signature.

The Blues reportedly have a whole network of scouts in South America, with Frank Arnesen looking to cherry pick young talent ahead of Chelsea’s Premier League rivals. Arnesen had apparently been tracking Di Santo for a year, and with many Chelsea fans disappointed with a lack of real youthful prospects entering Stamford Bridge, the signing of the Argentinean is a real boost for the Blues’ future chances.

Standing at 6ft 4ins, the comparison with Maradona is perhaps somewhat off the mark. A goal-poacher who is strong, quick and unsurprisingly good in the air, Di Santo doesn’t rely on tricks and flicks, instead using his key attributes to assist and score in abundance. He holds an Italian passport so is available to play whenever Grant sees fit to include him in the squad.

Whether that is in the near future is a question only the manager can answer, but rest assured, when Di Santo does feature, prepare to be impressed. This is one young Argentinean striker who really can live up to the hype.

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