What Sandro Tonali did against Rangers has got Newcastle United talking

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Newcastle United new boy Sandro Tonali made his Magpies’ debut at Rangers’ Ibrox - and our man Liam Kennedy was impressed with the Italian’s performance.

Tenacity, intensity, skills and some rough edges. There was a lot to like about the opening gambit of Sandro Tonali's Newcastle United career - and you get the sense there's a whole lot more to come.

While home eyes were drawn to the farewell of a legend in Allan McGregor, the 8,000-strong away section at Rangers' Ibrox had theirs fixed on Tonali in hope of witnessing the birth of one of their own.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Thrown in for his first start since his headline-grabbing £52million move from AC Milan, it was easy to see why Eddie Howe had the Italy under-21 skipper right at the top of his wanted list, even if his elegant and at times bustling performance only lasted 45 minutes in Glasgow.

AFP via Getty Images

Taking kick-off, the 23-year-old then slid into the right-sided No.8 role, last season so well occupied by Sean Longstaff, who was moved into Bruno Guimaraes' deep-lying No.6 slot to accommodate Tonali.

Some smart early touches and some zippy passing exchanges with skipper Kieran Trippier put the midfielder at ease before we saw a flash of the side of Tonali's game that has seen more recently compared to Milanista and former Ger Gennaro Gattuso.

With the ball there to be won, Tonali scrapped and kicked and battled with Rangers striker Abdallah Sima, who gave as good as he got before eventually succumbing to the physical presence of the youngster.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Tenacious, this kind of action shows exactly why he looks the perfect fit for the United midfield three.

Defensive actions are one thing, but every Newcastle midfielder must also be able to produce something in the final third - and Tonali does not look lacking in that department.

His sharp, press-splitting ball into the advancing Elliot Anderson opened the game up for Miguel Almiron to net the opening goal. It was the kind of welcome Howe, United fans and the player himself would have dreamed of.

With that, the confidence grew - and so too did the passing range.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A reverse 'no look' ball, flipped over the top, lacked the top spin to prevent it skidding through to McGregor between the sticks. Callum Wilson's hearty round of applause showed his appreciation of the idea, even if the ball eluded his run. Ten for inventiveness, maybe a seven for execution.

Another one out the locker, Tonali got ever more adventurous and impressive, as he whipped one 40-yard ball out to Trippier to switch from left to right with speed and ease.

His final act in black and white, for now, was to race down to prevent Borna Barisic, Rangers' left-back, passing out from deep in his own half. A throw in conceded, but another element to his game revealed - one which is very 'Howe's United'.

“I was very impressed, I thought he was excellent,” Howe said after the game. “Everything we hoped he would bring he did and that first 45 minutes he was very calm, composed and technically at a really high level.

“He built good relationships with the players and looked at home in a black and white shirt.”

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.