50 Rising Stars to watch in the Premier League: No 14 Franco Di Santo

14 October 2010 02:22
Football.co.uk's countdown continues with a young Argentine striker already playing for this third Premier League club.

Name: Franco Matias Di Santo

Born: 7 April 1989 (Age 21)

International Honours: Argentina U20 (25 caps, 5 goals)

After originally joining Chilean side Audax Italiano as a 15-year-old back in 2005, Di Santo was soon fast-tracked into first-team action, making his senior debut just a year later.

He went on to make a huge contribution in the 2006-07 season, scoring 16 times in 69 appearances in all competitions.

Now standing at a massive 6ft 4in, Di Santo's size and power allowed him to adapt easily to senior football, so much so that the following season he bagged an impressive 12 goals in just 17 appearances.

The Argentine's goal-scoring form led to a January bid from Premier League giants Chelsea, with the young forward moving to Stamford Bridge for an undisclosed fee.

His form continued to improve after moving to England, with goals in both his first and second outings for Chelsea's reserve side. Shortly after he scored a superb hat-trick against Tottenham reserves, finishing the season with an amazing record of 12 goals in just eight games.

Despite his record for the reserves, Di Santo found it difficult to break into an already established first XI. He scored a couple of goals in pre-season but was then reduced to just a few substitute appearances, playing the vast majority of his football in the reserve side once again.

At the start of last season Franco signed a six-month loan deal with Blackburn Rovers. After an injury-plagued start to his stint at Ewood Park, Di Santo began to work his way into the starting XI.

He scored in a fiery local derby win over rivals Burnley but then saw his form gradually dip as the season went on. Although his loan was extended until the end of the season, he finished with a disappointing return of just one goal in 22 appearances.

After returning to parent club Chelsea last summer, Di Santo was eventually the subject of a last-minute bid from Wigan Athletic. He put pen-to-paper on a three-year permanent deal at the DW Stadium, joining Roberto Martinez's side for a fee believed to be in excess of £1 million.

Since making the move north, the former Argentina U20 international has made four appearances but is yet to score for his new club.

Source: DSG