The £43m genius signing who would revolutionise Newcastle United’s midfield

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The Magpies are understood to be pursuing AC Milan midfielder Sandro Tonali

And so it begins. Newcastle United, a newly-anointed continental club with plans for world domination and an intergalactic budget to help them achieve those aims, are sizing up their first significant signing of the summer transfer window. It feels like a ribbon-cutting ceremony of sorts - except the decorative bow is the feeble protestations of Financial Fair Play and the comically large pair of safety scissors is a drilling rig somewhere on the outskirts of a Saudi oil field.

In recent weeks, the Magpies have been mentioned in relation to many a passing fancy - such is the nature of being the richest club in world football - but according to The Athletic, one object of desire that might actually be as legitimate as he is tantalising is AC Milan’s Sandro Tonali.

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It is understood that a bid of around £43 million has already been submitted by Toon chiefs, with Eddie Howe eager to reinforce his midfield ahead of next season’s Champions League campaign. The Athletic go on to suggest that the Newcastle boss would ideally like to bring in two new recruits in the centre of the park this summer, with a defensively-minded player and a more versatile talent top of his agenda. Chelsea are also said to be in the running for the Italian because, let’s face it, if it has a pulse and costs more than £40 million, Todd Boehly will try and sign it.

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With regards to Howe’s own priorities, Tonali’s tactical flexibility will certainly appeal. The 23-year-old has performed a number of roles during his time in Milan, and he has generally done them all admirably. Whether it is as an old school midfield enforcer, or a more astutely canny dictator of play, Tonali has proven that he can thrive - and thrive at the highest level to boot. In the handful of years since he joined Milan from boyhood club Brescia, the emerging star has won a Serie A title, helped his side to the semi-finals of the Champions League, and featured 14 times for the Italian national team. This summer, he will sport the captain’s armband as the Azzurri bid for U21 European Championship glory. In short, his pedigree is stellar, and there is a real feeling that he is only just getting started.

Already there have been comparisons to Andrea Pirlo and personal idol Genarro Gattuso, who Tonali speaks of with particular fondness, and already he has shoehorned his way into the conversation surrounding the most promising players in continental football. If he remained in Milan, he would perhaps become a kind of gateway touchstone for the casual calcio hipster, the sort of player who might be recognised worldwide, but who is only truly appreciated by the snooty few - at their own insistence, of course.

As it is though, he could soon be swapping the Via Montenapoleone for the Bigg Market, and in doing so, he might just come to revolutionise Newcastle’s midfield.

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It was, Caravaggio, another unassuming artisanal presence from Lombardy who pioneered the concept of chiaroscuro. Directly translated, the term means ‘light-dark’, and refers to the balance and pattern of illuminated spaces and shade in a painting or drawing. In other words, the presence of darkness allows the strategically illuminated to shine all the brighter. This is where Tonali would be of real worth to the Magpies.

In their report on Newcastle’s pursuit of the midfielder, The Athletic mention in passing that his arrival would allow Howe to deploy Bruno Guimaraes in a more advanced role. The Brazilian has shown on countless occasions already that he has a real flair for the creatively devastating, and it feels natural that his manager would look to accentuate those aspects of his game when and where possible.

To fully commit to Bruno’s reinvention - or at the very least, his unshackling - Newcastle must first ensure that they have the requisite ballast to do so with confidence. Tonali can provide that in abundance. Holistically, he possesses many of the composed, velveteen qualities as Guimaraes, but he would also bring a certain measure of grit to the engine room. Think of him as Furio from The Sopranos; effortlessly sophisticated, luxuriously maned, but also willing take a baseball bat to the occasional kneecap if push comes to shove. Then imagine Furio making a cameo in Auf Wiedersehn, Pet and you’ve pretty much got the full gist. I suppose in this analogy, Sean Longstaff is Oz or something.

The point is that Tonali, while a sublime talent in his own right, would also serve to do that thing which all great players do; unlock the true potential of those around him. And that in turn would benefit Newcastle immensely. There is lingering talk of interest in Leicester City’s James Maddison, and who knows, that might still come to fruition. But even if it doesn’t, allowing Bruno to operate solely under a more attacking guise will feel like having a new, Champions League standard signing in the side.

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At the present moment, things appear to progressing well in matters pertaining to Tonali. Sport Italia report that talks are already underway, with the player’s entourage having already landed in London as they look to hammer out the finer details of an agreement. The deal might not happen, but certainly, there is no reason to believe that it can’t.

For Newcastle fans, that should be a point of real excitement. There will be other signings this summer - perhaps ones that cost more or that dazzle with a more obvious luminescence than Tonali will. But few, if any, will bring with them as many distinct merits, or will have as much potential to impact the Magpies’ current cohort of players in such profoundly positive ways.

The Italian is the real deal, and whoever eventually wins the race to sign him will be securing themselves a very valuable asset. It’s a big word to consider and a lot of pressure to dole out, but if the Toon revolution is truly coming, then Tonali would be a very, very decent opening shot across the bows.

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