‘Due diligence’ - Manchester United's dream target blamed for £55m blunder that crippled Newcastle’s season

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Sandro Tonali arrived as the marquee signing for Newcastle United following Champions League qualification

Former Premier League chief Keith Wyness believes Dan Ashworth was at fault for signing Sandro Tonali last summer.

Newcastle United broke the bank to sign the Italian from Serie A giants AC Milan. His £55million transfer fee made him the club’s marquee arrival after securing Champions League qualification.

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However, the deal soon unravelled as Tonali admitted to breaching betting regulations in October. The offences took place as a Milan player and Italian authorities slapped him with a 10-month suspension.

Tonali’s ban drastically impacted Newcastle’s season, with the injury crisis soon mounting and Lewis Miley, Sean Longstaff and Bruno Guimaraes being heavily relied upon. Toon insiders were understood to have been extremely frustrated by the situation - which almost got worse earlier this month.

The FA charged Tonali with further misdemeanours for bets placed as a Newcastle player but opted to give him a suspended two-month ban. Speaking to Football Insider, ex-Everton and Aston Villa CEO Wyness slammed Ashworth, set to join Manchester United, for signing the midfielder.

“From what I know, the Tonali situation has raised many eyebrows at Newcastle and outside of the club,” he said. “They can’t believe his problems weren’t picked up on in the recruitment process. That’s the sort of thing a sporting director should have done his due diligence on.

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“You’ve got to assess the mental state of a player, the rumours, the gossip. When I did major transfers, that was something I always had to look at and find any potential risks. It’s been a big issue for Newcastle because he was an expensive acquisition.

“I think it’s a football cliche – but he will be like a new signing. Tonali could be a very important force for Newcastle, it just depends on his confidence and mental state. He obviously has talent, he’s a gifted player. I hope he has a good comeback.”

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