Newcastle boss Eddie Howe sends warning to Sandro Tonali after £55m transfer

Eddie Howe has warned Sandro Tonali “the Premier League is different.”

‌The Italian star made an impressive St James’ Park debut on Saturday against Fiorentina as Newcastle won 2-0 with goals from Miguel Almiron and Alexander Isak. The £55m man has to prove himself combative enough for a place in Howe’s first starting XI of the season against Aston Villa next week and Howe has seen an improvement in his defensive duties.

The former AC Milan playmaker’s quality on the ball is not in doubt, but Howe wants a solid midfield platform. Tonali played on the right of a three, and Howe admitted: “Out of possession it was a step up in his recent performances which was good to see.”

‌Tonali will have to adjust the physical and quick midfield battle to oust Sean Longstaff, and Howe added: “We are working on every aspect of his game. For Sandro, the Premier League is different.

“He would have found that in the few games he played in America where there was a step up – just the speed, sharpness, where opponents place themselves. We have to be solid defensively if we are to have success.

‌“He’s a combiner, he’s going to need relationships to show his best qualities. In time those will grow and we will see the player I know he is going to be.

‌“He was very good today. I was pleased with Sandro, he played as an 8 and a 6 and was composed in possession.”

‌Tino Livramento watched from the stand ahead of his £30m switch from Southampton being confirmed soon. Howe refused to comment on the deal. Anthony Gordon missed two good chances but played extremely well in a front three that is likely to start against Villa.‌

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Howe said: “Anthony has had a good summer. He has come back more confident. I see a player with confidence, huge ability and talent. He has done well.

‌“But he’s probably gone home kicking himself that he hasn’t got two goals but there is a big improvement in general performances and his fitness level.” Fabian Schar will be missing from Sunday’s friendly against Villarreal through injury but is returning to training.