Newcastle complete signing of Italy midfielder Sandro Tonali from AC Milan

Newcastle complete signing of Italy midfielder Sandro Tonali from AC Milan

Newcastle have completed their swoop for AC Milan star Sandro Tonali as they gear up for a return to Champions League football.

The 23-year-old Italy midfielder has signed for an undisclosed fee – understood to be in excess of £50million – on an initial deal which will keep him at St James’ Park until 2028.

Tonali, who has 14 senior caps, has captained his country at the European Under-21s Championship in Georgia and Romania in recent weeks and the announcement of his signing came a day after the Italians exited the competition.

The former Brescia player said: “First of all, I want to thank Newcastle United because they are giving me a huge opportunity for my career.

“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.”

Tonali is the kind of marquee signing Magpies head coach Eddie Howe has been targeting since guiding the club to a top-four Premier League finish last season to end a two-decade exile from Europe’s most prestigious club competition.

Howe has signalled his intention to recruit quality rather than quantity this summer while remaining within the bounds of the spending limits under which a club which had invested more than £250million in the first three transfer windows under its new Saudi-backed owners must operate.

Italy's Sandro Tonali (left) and England’s Harry Kane battle for possession
Italy’s Sandro Tonali (left) and England’s Harry Kane battle for possession (Adam Davy/PA)

He has acknowledged the difficulty of competing on the domestic and European fronts next season and knows a repetition of a remarkable league campaign will be made all the tougher by the demands of rubbing shoulders with the continent’s big boys once again.

However, landing a player of Tonali’s stature is an indication of the direction Newcastle hope to take and the 45-year-old was delighted to have got his man.

Howe said: “I’m delighted to welcome Sandro to Newcastle United. 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.”

Tonali began his career at Brescia, where he helped the club win promotion to Serie A, and moved to Milan during the summer of 2020, initially on a season-long loan deal.

He leaves with 130 appearances to his name in the Italian top flight and having played in all 12 of the Rossoneri’s Champions League fixtures last season as they made it to the semi-finals, where they were beaten by arch-rivals Inter.

Tonali’s departure has angered some Milan fans amid claims he has “downgraded” by leaving the club.

However, in an Instagram message to supporters, he said: “I understand that this farewell can arouse mixed emotions and it’s normal that there are when you leave a big piece of your heart, but it’s important to remember that in football, as in life, changes are sometimes a reason for growth for everyone.”