In an era dominated by capitalism rather than romance, Serie A still cherishes a few tales of love. Zlatan Ibrahimovic chose to return to and retire at his beloved club. Romelu Lukaku couldn’t bring himself to leave the Nerazzurri stripes. Italian players often reject lucrative offers elsewhere to remain loyal to their cherished clubs in the peninsula.
Sandro Tonali epitomized the devotion of a footballer when he willingly accepted a pay cut to continue his journey with AC Milan in 2021, standing by the team he had supported since childhood. The bond between an Italian boy and his favorite club seemed unbreakable. Or so it seemed.
“I know what I did to earn this shirt, and I would never make the mistake of leaving,” he once affirmed to Corriere della Sera. Milan was his dream.
Newcastle secures the signing of Italy midfielder Tonali for £55m
Hailing from Sant’Angelo, a small town in the province of Lodi with a population of only 13,000, most of whom, like Tonali, support Milan, the midfielder’s roots run deep. Gennaro Gattuso, a former Milan midfielder, served as his idol. It comes as no surprise, considering the characteristics often associated with Santangiolinos: spirit and tenacity.
From an early age, Sandrino, as he is affectionately known by those who witnessed his development, displayed immense potential. Combative, with exceptional positional sense and an innate understanding of the game, Tonali possessed the qualities needed to excel.
While football is always enjoyable for children, Tonali seemed to relish the challenging moments even more. A footballing masochist, he found true joy in the game only when he had to endure hardship to secure victory.
Upon joining Brescia, Tonali began captivating the attention of Italian football. Who was this youngster hailed as Andrea Pirlo’s heir? “Tonali doesn’t resemble me as a player. He is far more complete, both defensively and offensively,” explained Pirlo when asked about the prodigy.
Tonali didn’t strive to model his game after Pirlo; instead, he looked up to his teammate, former Rangers midfielder Gattuso.
In a short film released by AC Milan called ‘Sandro Tonali – A Rossonero Dream Come True,’ one anecdote revealed that Tonali considered a mug with Gattuso’s image on it as one of his most treasured possessions. When his mother accidentally broke it, he painstakingly glued each piece back together.
Similar to Gattuso, Tonali possessed a combative style, an unwavering spirit of sacrifice, and an ability to cover every inch of the pitch. But most importantly, he embodied the essence of an old-school professional who deeply cared about the game.
Before the Champions League semi-final against Inter, Tonali shut out the distractions to focus entirely on the task at hand. He adhered to a stricter diet, adjusted training routines, rescheduled PR duties, refrained from social media, and even skipped birthday celebrations, settling only for a slice of cake and a candle. There was a job to be done and a game to be played.
‘The Man Who Can Play Anywhere’
Nothing seemed as important to Tonali as football and Milan. In his first season with the club, he faced difficulties.
Many observed how the realization of his dream to don the Rossoneri colors took an emotional toll on him and hindered his integration. Coach Stefano Pioli worked closely with him, and in the second season, Tonali emerged as one of the key players behind their Scudetto triumph.
Milan wasn’t expected to clinch the title in 2022. It was deemed too early in their rebuilding project, with Inter having a stronger squad.
As a young group with more potential than experience, it fell upon Milan to rise to the occasion and capitalize on Inter’s downfall. When the pressure was at its peak, Tonali showcased his ability to do anything and everything for the team.
He scored the winning goal against Lazio in gameweek 34, propelled the team to victory against Fiorentina in gameweek 35, and pushed Milan forward, scoring a brace to dismantle the formidable Hellas Verona in gameweek 36. Milan secured six consecutive wins in the final stretch.
Tonali was omnipresent. He recovered possession, found the back of the net, and covered more ground than seemed humanly possible. Compared to his first season at Milan, the midfielder had shown tremendous growth, playing a vital role in leading his club to their first title in 11 years.
Beppe Bergomi, Inter’s legendary center-back, perfectly summed up what makes Tonali so special: “Tonali is the man who can play anywhere in this Milan side. If you pay attention, every tactical adjustment involves him; he’s the one who adapts to a specific area of the pitch based on the coach’s plans.”
Tonali became Pioli’s trump card. Deployed in various positions, his tactical understanding ensured the effective execution of Milan’s strategies. Whether it was freeing Rafael Leao from strict marking, leading the defensive press, or acting as an auxiliary striker, Tonali excelled in multiple roles.
In just one month, the club’s fans have lost both Paolo Maldini, their iconic former captain and one of the leading figures behind the club’s resurgence, and Tonali, the symbol of their future.
Milan seems to have adopted a strategy that distances itself from sentiment and romance in favor of a more business-oriented approach.
These are disheartening times for the many Italian clubs that have built impressive footballing projects, as demonstrated by the consistent presence of Italian teams in the latter stages of Europe’s top competitions. Unfortunately, they struggle to retain their talents long enough to compete consistently with the financially privileged elite.
As for Newcastle, it’s a time to sit back and relish the development of their own footballing project.
With the acquisition of Tonali, they have secured a highly motivated and dedicated player who thrives on winning back possession and providing support to the team, both defensively and offensively.
He will train rigorously, focus solely on the game, and strive to leave a lasting impact, ultimately hoping that one day, his image will grace the mug of a young fan, cherished and admired.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Passionate
Who is Sandro Tonali?
Sandro Tonali is an Italian midfielder who recently joined Newcastle United. He previously played for AC Milan and has gained recognition for his passion, commitment, and versatility on the pitch.
What is Sandro Tonali’s transfer fee?
The transfer fee for Sandro Tonali’s move to Newcastle United is reported to be around £55 million, making him the most expensive Italian footballer in history.
Was Sandro Tonali a fan of AC Milan?
Yes, Sandro Tonali supported AC Milan since childhood and took a pay cut in 2021 to stay with the team. He was deeply attached to the club and considered it his dream to play for Milan.
What are Sandro Tonali’s playing qualities?
Tonali is known for his combative style, spirit of sacrifice, and ability to cover ground on the field. He possesses a strong understanding of the game, can play in multiple positions, and is highly motivated to win back possession and support his team.
Why did Sandro Tonali leave AC Milan for Newcastle United?
The exact reasons behind Tonali’s move from AC Milan to Newcastle United are not specified in the text. However, it can be inferred that Newcastle’s offer and the opportunity for a new challenge might have played a role in his decision to leave Milan.
More about Passionate
- Sandro Tonali: The ‘football masochist’ who has signed for Newcastle United – Sky Sports article providing details about Sandro Tonali’s move to Newcastle United.
- Sandro Tonali: The future captain of AC Milan – BBC Sport article discussing Sandro Tonali’s potential as a future captain of AC Milan.
- Newcastle sign Italy midfielder Tonali for £55m – BBC Sport report on Newcastle United’s signing of Sandro Tonali for a record fee.
- The rise of Sandro Tonali: Andrea Pirlo’s heir at AC Milan – The Guardian article exploring Sandro Tonali’s journey and his comparison to Andrea Pirlo.
- Italian football: Challenges faced by clubs in retaining talented players – Eurosport analysis on the challenges faced by Italian clubs in retaining talented players due to financial constraints.