Template:ImportTemplate:Infobox Biography Franco Matías Di Santo (born 7 April 1989) is an Argentine footballer who plays as a striker for Werder Bremen and has represented the Argentina national football team. His then teammate at Chelsea, Ricardo Carvalho nicknamed him 'Crespito' (little Crespo) after former Chelsea and Argentina striker Hernán Crespo.
Audax Italiano Edit
Born in Mendoza, Mendoza Province, Di Santo began his club career in the Chilean team Audax Italiano. In the 2006–07 season, he scored 26 goals in 76 matches, including one goal in six matches in the Copa Libertadores. Then, in 2007 he scored 12 in 17 matches for the club, including one goal in four matches in the Copa Sudamericana. On 25 January 2008, Di Santo signed for English Premier League side Chelsea on a four-and-a-half year contract for a fee of £3.4 million.
Di Santo scored on his debut for Chelsea reserves on 11 February 2008, getting a late goal in a 2–2 draw with Fulham reserves and scored his second goal in as many appearances, against Reading reserves on 3 March. On 14 April, he scored his first hat-trick for Chelsea's reserve team against Tottenham Reserves; the most spectacular of the three goals being a volley from a Branislav Ivanović cross that found the top right corner. In the last reserve match of the season, Di Santo scored his seventh goal in eight reserve games against Aston Villa. He finished the 2007–08 reserve season with 12 reserve goals in eight games.
Di Santo trained with the first team in 2008–09 pre-season and flew out with the squad on their tour of China. Ahead of their first game on tour, he was handed the number 36 jersey and came off the bench in that game against Guangzhou Pharmaceutical, to score the third goal during a 4–0 victory. He scored his second goal of the pre-season campaign in the 65th minute against the Chengdu Blades in a 7–0 victory after he had replaced Nicolas Anelka five minutes before.
On 31 August, Di Santo made his full first-team debut in the 1–1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur, coming on in place of Nicolas Anelka in the 88th minute of the game. He made his second first-team appearance in a League Cup match against Portsmouth on 24 September coming on for Didier Drogba in the 79th minute. His UEFA Champions League debut came against CFR Cluj, he replaced Florent Malouda in the 70th minute. The game ended 0–0. On 3 January 2009, Di Santo made his FA Cup debut, coming on as a substitute against Southend United in a 1–1 draw at Stamford Bridge.
Di Santo came on as a substitute for Florent Malouda, against Stoke City assisting on a goal in the 88th minute for Juliano Belletti making the scorelines 1–1. Teammate Frank Lampard then went on to score a 94th minute winner with Chelsea claiming a dramatic 2–1 win.
Di Santo scored his first goal of the 2009 pre-season against Club América; he also provided an assist to teammate Florent Malouda a minute later. Chelsea won the game 2–0 to win the World Football Challenge.
Loan to Blackburn RoversEdit
On 3 August 2009, Di Santo joined Blackburn Rovers on loan until February 2010, with the option of extending the loan by six-months to June 2010. On 5 August 2009, Di Santo had his debut for Rovers at Ewood Park vs Hibernian. After recovering from injury, he started in the 2–1 Blackburn win over Aston Villa. Di Santo impressed as he provided an assist for David Dunn and almost got himself on the scoresheet on a few occasions. His impressive performance earned praise from manager Sam Allardyce. Di Santo started and scored his first goal against Burnley at Ewood Park on 18 October 2009 while also notching up another assist for David Dunn with a clever flick. As a result of his good performances, Rovers extended his loan deal by a further six months until June 2010. However, after his extended loan, Di Santo saw less time on the pitch due to his poor goals to games ratio and was often used more as a late substitute. He was not selected for Rovers final squad of the 2009–10 season against Aston Villa, a game which Rovers went on to win 1–0.
On 31 August 2010, Di Santo signed a three-year contract with Wigan Athletic for a transfer fee of £2 million. He made his debut on 11 September, appearing as a substitute in a 1–1 draw against Sunderland, and made his first start for the club in the following game against Manchester City. On 23 April 2011, he scored his first goal for Wigan in the 93rd minute against Sunderland, his first goal since 18 October 2009.
On the opening day of the following Premier League season, Di Santo won a penalty which teammate Ben Watson converted into a goal in the 1–1 draw against Norwich City. On 27 August 2011, the third game of the season, he scored two deflected goals in a 2–0 win against Queens Park Rangers and left to a standing ovation from the home crowd when substituted. A week later, he scored again at Goodison Park against Everton, It was a deflected effort to take the lead, but eventually Wigan lost 3–1.
Di Santo scored his first goal of the 2012–13 season in a 2–0 away win at newly promoted Southampton. Di Santo scored the opening goal with a finish high into the net from inside the area.
On 30 June 2013, Di Santo was released by Wigan.
Werder Bremen Edit
Di Santo made his debut for the Argentina under-20 team in 2006 and scored his first goal in a game against the French under-20s. He was part of the under-20 squad that participated in the 2007 South American Youth Championship in Paraguay. Brazil went on to win the tournament having a two point advantage over Argentina.
He was also called up to the 2009 South American Youth Championship in Venezuela, but wasn't allowed to take part due to Chelsea's injury crises. From 2006 to 2009 Di Santo got 25 U-20 caps and five goals.
Di Santo has dual Argentine-Italian nationality.
- Franco Di Santo career stats at Soccerbase
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