The £63m ‘world star’ who can inspire Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United to success this season

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Newcastle United made a spectacular start to the Premier League season with a big win against Aston Villa - and one performance should not be overlooked.

Eddie Howe revealed he had ‘fallen in love’ with Sandro Tonali after watching him in action last season - and it was love at first sight for Newcastle United supporters as the midfielder put in a stunning debut performance on Saturday.

There was much that a hint of a surprise when the Italy international swapped life with his boyhood club AC Milan for a first flirtation with the Premier League when he completed a £60million move to Tyneside this summer. Marking his St James Park bow with a goal inside the first six minutes of his debut against Aston Villa set the tone for a display full of poise, power and pressing as Tonali dovetailed with Brazilian duo Joelinton and Bruno Guimaraes to lay the foundation of an impressive win that had St James’ Park purring.

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Tonali, understandably, stole the limelight, as he brushed aside cheeky suggestions he was ‘forced out’ of Milan and was not happy with his move to Newcastle by simply oozing class and relishing his first big occasion in black and white stripes.

Yet it was another Magpies player that had the St James Park faithful going starry-eyed after producing the goods and giving another major indication of the threat he will carry as Howe’s side look to build on the momentum gained throughout a remarkable season last time out.

Alexander Isak may well have spent most of the post-match celebrations standing in the shadows of Tonali as supporters and pundits eulogised over the midfielder’s performance - but the Sweden striker is rapidly becoming an integral figure within the Magpies setup. Some may well have scoffed at the £63million fee handed over to La Liga club Real Sociedad just under 12 months ago - but the 23-year-old is making a mockery of those claims and, if anything, is starting to make it seem his club have got a bit of a bargain.

His brace against Villa summed up everything there is to like about the former Borussia Dortmund forward. His first goal was about being in the right place at the right time, showing that instinct and thought process that every great striker must have in their armoury. His second was created with persistency and a carried out with a cool head as he dinked a shot beyond the helpless Emi Martinez and into the net.

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Alexander Isak scored twice for Newcastle United against Aston Villa on Saturday.Alexander Isak scored twice for Newcastle United against Aston Villa on Saturday.
Alexander Isak scored twice for Newcastle United against Aston Villa on Saturday.

Isak has already produced some memorable moments since joining Newcastle. His debut goal and performance at Liverpool hinted at what was to come and many will remember the outrageous dribble beyond several Everton players as he set up Jacob Murphy to score in United’s big win at Goodison Park last season.

The Swede’s tally for the Magpies currently sits at 12 goals and three assists in 28 appearances in all competitions and there is every indication his battle for a starting place with Callum Wilson will inspire him to reach even higher heights throughout what will be a hectic season.

His performance against Villa laid down a marker to his United team-mate, who then responded by grabbing a goal after replacing the Swede and he really should have matched Isak’s individual tally when presented with another golden chance by Harvey Barnes.

Isak’s display may have gone under the radar for the some but not for Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp. Speaking of the performance on Super Sunday, he said: “Newcastle’s recruitment has been unbelievable. Isak is such a fantastic player and a world star. He can score goals, he’s great on the ball. This guy can do everything. He’s a sensational player. You can tell from his interview, he’s so unassuming. I don’t think he realises what a fantastic footballer he is.”

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A man well-versed in scoring goals in the Premier League also gave his approval as former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink added: “I’ve liked Alexander Isak from day one. I’ve always said he’s a very good striker having come from Real Sociedad. Technically he’s very good, he’s good with his back to goal and when he is facing it. Nothing looks out of place, the way he took his second goal. You can’t teach that. You have it, and it’s about just looking and adjusting. It’s natural, and he’s only going to get better.”

Magpies manager Howe went a step further by suggesting Isak has ‘epitomised’ his side’s performance during the win.

He said: “He’s a special player and he can do special things, like the finish I was just watching there (Isak’s second goal). I didn’t realise quite how good it was. He epitomised the team again. We were front-foot, we imposed ourselves and took the game to Aston Villa. We could have scored more really.”

There is a feeling Isak’s willingness to work across the frontline and utilise his clever movement to create space for a team simply bursting with pace and vibrancy will make Newcastle a major threat throughout the season and he will only go on to enhance his reputation as one of the Premier League’s most exciting strikers.

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Competition with the ever-prolific Wilson, who should not be overlooked for his impressive tally of 39 goals and 10 assists in 83 appearances, will only drive standards higher and bring the best out of both Isak and his team-mate. For now, the Swede is in pole position, and the worrying news for the Premier League is that he looks more than capable to improving further as he looks to lead the Magpies to success at home and in Europe.

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