Pardew feels Santon has more than filled the void left by Jose Enrique's departure to Liverpool last year.
Pardew told the Evening Chronicle: “Alongside Hatem Ben Arfa, Davide has been our best player this year.
“He’s had to overcome things. The problem with Davide is when a winger gave him a bad time he took it personally.
“And he couldn’t understand that. He couldn’t let it go.
“This year he’s had bad moments and wingers have skipped past him and he’s made a bad pass. But he’s coped much better with the moment after. That’s the difference this year.”