Franco di Santo is a striker for the Argentina U-21 national side and Chelsea in the English Premier League. At 1.93m, he is effective as a powerhouse target-man, ad is learning his trade from the very best – Didier Drogba normally holds the line for Chelsea. He shot to fame in the 2007 U-20 World Cup, and signed for Chelsea soon after – without the need for a work-permit because of his Italian ancestry. He is a bright prospect.
Di Santo was born on 7th April 1989 and was brought up on the streets of Mendoza in Western Argentina, near the Chilean border. He played football religiously with his little brothers – one of whom is starting to make his name at River Plate in Di Santo’s homeland. Franco was signed up by his local club Godoy, and moved his way up through the youth ranks, though never played a competitive game for the club.
Audax Italiano had various scouts looking for young footballers with potential, and an hour trip into Argentina proved fruitful when they found Di Santo. Di Santo signed professional forms for the Santiago-based team at the ages of just 17 years, and was given his debut after just a few months of adapting.
Playing regularly for the Chilean side led to interest from the Argentinean national set-up. Although he was only playing as a substitute striker, coming on towards the end of games when he could use his pace against the tired legs of the opposition, Di Santo managed 6 goals in his first season, and improved on this in his second.
With growing maturity, Di Santo was becoming to look like a match-winner at any level, prompting bids from various European clubs.
Franco Di Santo signed for Chelsea on January 8th 2008 for a fee of around £4m. He was one of temporary coach Avram Grant’s first signings, and joined on the day after Nicolas Anelka had been unveiled. Because he has his roots in Italy, Di Santo qualified for an Italian passport, and was able to bypass any work-permit regulations.
Di Santo took some time to settle at the club, adapting to the pace of the Premier League. He played regularly for the reserves for the rest of the 07/08 season, but had clearly been bought with the future in mind.
On the eve of the 08/09 season, Di Santo was given an upgrade to the number 9 shirt, and was given a regular spot in the first-team squad by Coach Felipe Scolari. He made his debut for the Blues on August 31st against Spurs, and has been used in various games since – with Chelsea sticking to Audax Italiano’s tactic of utilising his pace and power late in the game.
Franco Di Santo first rose to prominence in the Argentinean side that battled Brazil for the U-20 World Cup in 2007. A last-gasp goal for Argentina helped him to hit the headlines, and set the big European club’s scouts into overdrive. He is on the verge of a call-up to the U-21 squad, even though he is still very young. Big things are expected of this striker.