The stunning £28m signing Newcastle United will replace Sandro Tonali with - according to Football Manager

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There are several options available to Newcastle United as they look to replace Italy international Sandro Tonali.

Newcastle United are facing up to life without key summer signing Sandro Tonali for the next ten months.

The Italy international arrived on Tyneside in a surprise £55m deal from AC Milan as Eddie Howe handed a significant boost to his already impressive midfield options. The prospect of seeing one of Serie A’s brightest stars featuring alongside the likes of Bruno Guimaraes, Joelinton and Sean Longstaff whet the appetite of the St. James' Park faithful ahead of the new season.

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After making a handful of eye-catching performances and marking his debut with a goal in an opening day win over Aston Villa, Tonali will watch the remainder of his first season in the Premier League from the sidelines after he received a ten-month ban for breaching gambling regulations in Italy.

Speaking about the ban, Magpies boss Howe said: "You make a decision at the time with the knowledge you have.  We really liked him as a footballer and had no idea that this was even a possibility. Of course, there's a frustration and a disappointment that we're not going to have a quality player for a period of time.”

There has been speculation the Magpies could look to fill the void left behind by Tonali by making a move in the January transfer window and there have been widespread reports linking United with a loan deal for Manchester City and England star Kalvin Phillips.

The likes of Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay, Fulham’s Joao Palhinha and Al-Hilal’s Ruben Neves are also believed to have admirers within the St James Park hierarchy - although the latter is now an unlikely target with Premier League clubs set to implement a ban on loan signings between clubs with the same owners.

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Howe remained non-committal when he was asked about a potential move to replace Tonali in January when he was asked about his transfer plans for the new year in a pre-match press conference ahead of last month’s draw at Wolves.

He said: "I don't have any plans for January at this moment in time but we have an eye on it.  We will half an idea, we are stretched with our attacking options towards the end of December. But by then that could look very different. So we are going to have to be adjustable.

“It can change very quickly. One minute you can look at a squad and think you have options and choices. A couple of days later in can be very different. That is part of this season with the games we have. There are positives to take from being in Europe but there are challenges and potential negatives.”

Newcastle are hoping to sign a replacement for Sandro Tonali in January, according to reports. (Getty Images)Newcastle are hoping to sign a replacement for Sandro Tonali in January, according to reports. (Getty Images)
Newcastle are hoping to sign a replacement for Sandro Tonali in January, according to reports. (Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

For all of Howe’s comments, it does seem increasingly likely Howe will be forced into the market in the new year.  The well-timed return of Joe Willock and the emergence of 17-year-old talent Lewis Miley are major positives for the Magpies boss - but a move to further enhance his options in the middle of the park could remain a priority.

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With that in mind, we fired up Football Manager 2024 to see how the world’s most popular managerial simulation predicts the Magpies will act in the January transfer window as they look to replace their Italian international. Firstly, it is important to state Newcastle did not strike early in the transfer window and their new addition did not arrive until the final week of January after several attempts to sign other players failed to reach a successful conclusion.

With the virtual world mirroring what could well play out in real life, the Magpies made an offer to Manchester City to sign England star Phillips - but were rebuffed by the midfielder as he opted to join Aston Villa in a £28m deal. Borussia Dortmund rejected a similar offer for former Manchester United loanee Marcel Sabitzer and Chelsea were left unimpressed by a £35m offer to sign Conor Gallagher. However, the Magpies finally found a breakthrough when they landed another star from Serie A.

Atalanta’s versatile midfielder Teun Koopmeiners was the man to fill the Tonali void and he will provide competition when the former Milan star returns next season after the Dutch international completed a £28m deal to join Newcastle.

Teun Koopmeiners has been a key player for Atalanta in recent seasons. (Getty Images)Teun Koopmeiners has been a key player for Atalanta in recent seasons. (Getty Images)
Teun Koopmeiners has been a key player for Atalanta in recent seasons. (Getty Images) | Getty Images

The early signs were promising as the 25-year-old became a regular part of Howe’s side during the second half of the season, playing in the heart of the Magpies midfield with Bruno Guimaraes and Sean Longstaff.

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Koopmeiners went on to provide three assists and scored two goals in 24 appearances in all competitions as Howe’s side claimed fifth place in the Premier League and narrowly missed out on silverware with a 2-1 defeat against Liverpool in the FA Cup Final.

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