Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe hails 'exceptional' new signing Sandro Tonali

Midfielder joins from AC Milan in deal reported to be worth £60m

Sandro Tonali has just captained Italy at the Under-21 European Championships. EPA
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Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe has hailed Sandro Tonali as “an exceptional talent” after the midfielder completed his move from AC Milan.

The 23-year-old has joined on a five-year contract in a deal reported to be worth around £60 million – a record fee paid for an Italian player.

He becomes Newcastle's second signing of the summer – after Gambian teenage winger Yankuba Minteh, who joined from Danish club Odense but was immediately loaned out to Feyenoord – ahead of a season when the club return to Champions League football for the first time in 20 years.

Tonali joined boyhood club Milan from Brescia in 2020, initially on loan, before going on to make 130 appearances, helping the club win the title in 2022, their first scudetto in 11 years.

He scored twice in 34 Serie A games as Milan finished fourth last season and played in all 12 of the Rossoneri’s Champions League fixtures as they made it to the semi-finals, where they were beaten by arch-rivals Inter.

“First of all, I want to thank Newcastle United because they are giving me a huge opportunity for my career,” Tomali said in a statement.

“I want to repay the trust on the pitch, giving it my all, as I always have. I’m really excited about playing at St James Park, I can’t wait to feel the warmth of the fans.”

His arrival is huge boost to Howe, who guided the club to fourth place in the Premier League last season, their highest since finishing third in 2002/03 under Bobby Robson.

“I'm delighted to welcome Sandro to Newcastle United,” said Howe. “He is an exceptional talent and has the mentality, physicality and technical attributes to be a great fit for us.

“At 23, Sandro already has important experience as a key player in one of Europe's top leagues and in the Champions League, as well as playing for his country.

“But he also has the opportunity and potential to grow and evolve with us, and I'm excited to add him to our squad as we approach the exciting season ahead.”

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Tonali – who has 14 senior caps after making his debut as a substitute against Liechtenstein in October 2019 – captained Italy at the European Under-21s Championship in Georgia and Romania in recent weeks, where they failed to make out of the group stage.

New Magpies teammate Anthony Gordon, who has been playing in the same Euros tournament with England, described Tonali as “one of the top midfielders in the world”.

“I knew him from his early days at Brescia,” said Gordon, who joined Newcastle from Everton in January.

“I remember seeing some clips of him before he went to AC Milan. He has excelled and is one of the top midfielders in the world.

“It shows the direction we are going in. I’m really looking forward to playing with him.”

The Tonali deal takes Newcastle's spending over three transfer windows since the club was taken over by a Saudi Arabian-led consortium in October 2021, to more than £300 million.

Updated: July 03, 2023, 2:57 PM