Jurgen Klopp hails Newcastle buys Sandro Tonali and Harvey Barnes as 'smart business'

Liverpool manager takes his team to St James' Park for Premier League clash on Sunday

Sandro Tonali celebrates scoring on his Newcastle United debut against Aston Villa at St. James' Park on August 12, 2023. Getty
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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has praised Newcastle United's “smart business” in the summer transfer market ahead of their Premier League clash on Sunday.

The Merseysiders beat Newcastle home and away last season but it was the Magpies who had the last laugh when they finished fourth, one place and four points ahead of Klopp's side.

And Newcastle manager Eddie Howe has strengthened their squad ahead of the new campaign – which will include Champions League football for the first time in 20 years – bringing in Sandro Tonali, Harvey Barnes, Tino Livramento and Ryan Hall.

And the black and whites started the season in fine style when they thrashed Aston Villa on the opening weekend only to lose at treble winners Manchester City last Saturday.

But Klopp remains impressed with Newcastle's progress and it is the arrival of midfielder Tonali from AC Milan and winger Barnes from Leicester City that caught the eye of the German.

“Newcastle are an incredibly strong team, qualified for the Champions League, fully deserved,” Klopp said. “Super development under Eddie Howe, I have to say. Eddie is a super coach, a super manager.

“Smart business. I don't want to miss anybody but probably the two standouts in this window: Tonali and Barnes. Really good business.

“The speed they have is really good. Newcastle, since last year at least, they don't concede a lot but score. So that's a proper game.”

Liverpool have not been slouches in the transfer window themselves with Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai and Wataru Endo arriving at Anfield while the likes of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Roberto Firmino have all left the club.

They also missed out on the signings of Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia, with the Brighton and Southampton midfielders deciding to instead join Chelsea.

Going into the clash in the north-east, Klopp will be able to call upon Argentine World Cup winner Mac Allister again after his red card in the 3-1 win over Bournemouth was overturned.

Mac Allister – bought from Brighton in the summer for £35 million, in a deal that could rise to £55 million – was shown a straight red by referee Thomas Bramall after catching Bournemouth midfielder Ryan Christie on the foot at Anfield last weekend.

“When I saw the pictures I was pretty sure that it's not a red card but that doesn't mean then immediately that our appeal will be successful,” Klopp added.

“You don't have that a lot of times, that pretty much everybody agrees this is not a red card and should not be a red card. Harsh tackles should always be punished, I absolutely support that 100 per cent.

“But it was not a harsh tackle, it was just a touch in the situation. It was a massive relief when I heard that it is overturned. Very good news.”

Ibrahima Konate is a doubt because of a muscular problem and Joe Gomez or Joel Matip could instead partner Virgil Van Dijk in the centre of defence.

Meanwhile, striker Callum Wilson – the Magpies' top-scorer last campaign with 18 goals – insists Newcastle remain the underdogs going into the game but are looking to build on that 5-1 win at St James' Park against Villa.

“We are back at home and we are turning this place into a fortress,” Wilson, 31, told The Footballer's Football podcast.

“Liverpool are a top team and come here in good form. We are going to back ourselves like you do in every team against everybody.

“You want to win the game. You are going out to win the game. You are going out there not to draw, but to be ruthless, kill, be relentless, that's the way we play.”

Updated: August 26, 2023, 1:45 PM