Newcastle’s Sandro Tonali made a return to AC Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday in what proved a scoreless draw between the two clubs.
All eyes were on Tonali as he was back at San Siro, where he played 130 matches over three seasons and helped to establish his name as one of the leading midfielders in Europe.
In some ways, it was a fairytale return to Italy’s north for the 23-year-old. Tonali was the subject of praise from both sets of fans, who chanted his name and also cheered when his name was read out as the teams were announced.
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On the field, though, it was not nearly so successful for Tonali, who endured perhaps his poorest match as a Newcastle player.
Milan successfully shut down Tonali’s threat, limiting the 15-time Italy international to an astonishingly low 20 touches before he was replaced by Elliot Anderson after 72 minutes. No other starting player saw less action.
Tonali, meanwhile, did try to get involved but simply could not. He competed in six ground duels but won only won, while he also lost his only aerial duel. Furthermore, he gave up four fouls, which was a match-high figure.
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While he gained possession only once, he also lost it nine times.
With a pass completion of 70%, he was not even particularly strong in possession, where he generally excels.
Tonali vs Milan
|Aerial duels won||0/1|
What was Tonali’s transfer fee?
Newcastle paid €64 million to AC Milan to sign Tonali in the summer of 2023.
The St James’ Park club may be one of the richest in world football, but they have generally been reticent to pay huge transfer fees for players and so Tonali was by some distance their marquee signing of the summer.
Indeed, the fee that Newcastle paid for the Italian, who is under contract until 2028, is the second biggest fee they have ever paid, behind only Alexander Isak.