Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe explained what he likes about Sandro Tonali after the midfielder arrived at the club this past summer.
The 23-year-old completed a £52 million transfer from AC Milan in July, making him the most expensive Italian player of all time.
The Italy international is set for an emotional reunion with his former teammates on Tuesday night when the Rossoneri host the Magpies at San Siro in the Uefa Champions League, with kickoff set for 17:45 BST.
Howe has been impressed by Tonali’s attitude since joining Newcastle and how well he has adapted to living in the north east of England, adding that he’s “excited” to see what he’ll bring to the team for years to come.
“He’s really committed to Newcastle,” Howe said in his pre-match press conference. “Living there, the language and everything we wanted him to do. It’s very difficult to transfer from another country.
“I really like him as a person. He’s serious towards his game, which I like. He’s a leader. I’m excited for what he can be for us, both now and the future.”
It’s been 20 years since Newcastle last appeared in the Champions League proper. Howe laid out what he wants from his squad in the competition as they juggle commitments on domestic and continental fronts.
“We want to do as well as we can,” he said. “We want to be very competitive. We want to show our style of play. First and foremost the competitive nature in our game has to be there.”
AC Milan are facing into this tie on the back of a 5-1 drubbing at the hands of rivals Inter Milan. When asked if he was expecting a bounce back from the Serie A outfit, Howe responded: “Different competition, different day. We can only focus on ourselves. We have to start the game well with the atmosphere. The start will be key.”