AC Milan boss reveals the Newcastle United he will hug after Champions League match

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Newcastle United face a stern test in their first game back in the Champions League, taking on AC Milan at the San Siro.

AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli will welcome back former player Sandro Tonali with open arms.

The Italian was Newcastle United’s most high-profile signing of the summer transfer window, leaving his boyhood heroes Milan in a deal worth around £52million.

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Since then, he’s settled well on Tyneside, becoming an early cult figure with Newcastle fans thanks to his classy play and iconic visit to Gosforth High Street Wetherspoons.

Stefano Pioli, Head Coach of AC Milan interacts with Sandro Tonali of AC Milan prior to the Serie A match between US Cremonese and AC Milan at Stadio Giovanni Zini on November 08, 2022 in Cremona, Italy. Stefano Pioli, Head Coach of AC Milan interacts with Sandro Tonali of AC Milan prior to the Serie A match between US Cremonese and AC Milan at Stadio Giovanni Zini on November 08, 2022 in Cremona, Italy.
Stefano Pioli, Head Coach of AC Milan interacts with Sandro Tonali of AC Milan prior to the Serie A match between US Cremonese and AC Milan at Stadio Giovanni Zini on November 08, 2022 in Cremona, Italy. | Getty Images

It’s a far cry from the bright lights of Milan, where Pioli knows him best.

On his Champions League return with the Magpies this evening, Pioli said: “It will be exciting, I will hug him with great affection. It will be very emotional for him to return to San Siro and we wish him the best, but from the match after the one against us.”

The Rossoneri suffered a 5-1 hammering at the hands of city rivals Inter Milan on Saturday, sparking anger among fans and criticism of Pioli from the media.

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When asked whether it was his worst moment since taking the job, on the eve of the Newcastle fixture, the head coach said: “I have had good moments, but also difficult ones. I feel the weight of the failures in the derby and if I could, I would change these results. I know that I coach a strong team and I know that we will have the ability to react to such a difficult derby.

“I am in debt, because last year when we played really badly they always supported us. And I am in debt because I am the coach who lost the most derbies in a year but we will do everything to make this season positive.”

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