SANDRO TONALI has admitted he suffered a “difficult start” to his Newcastle United career – but is hoping to use this evening’s emotional return to the San Siro to help show how he has turned things around on Tyneside.

Tonali joined Newcastle in a club-record £53m move from AC Milan in the summer, and will line up against his former club for the first time when the Magpies kick off their Champions League campaign this teatime.

The midfielder admits he initially took time to settle on Tyneside, having never previously played outside of Italy prior to moving to England.


But having successfully established himself in Newcastle’s first team in the first month of the season, the 23-year-old is feeling much happier in his new surrounds.

“This summer has been hard and I’ve had a difficult start,” Tonali admitted. “At the beginning, it was not easy to find my place, but I have found people to support me and to help me and I started to be happier.

“Everything has been (better) since, I have to thank Mr Howe and my team-mates have been great. 

“They are helping me in my personal and professional life. They have helped me settle. The language at the beginning was very, very difficult for me, communicating with the guys I found extremely tough, but it is getting easier and I’m very happy. It is getting easier.”

Tonali grew up as a boyhood AC Milan fan, and described his move to the Rossoneri from Brescia in the summer of 2021 as a ‘dream come true’.

He is looking forward to today’s reunion, which will see him line up against most of the players he was playing alongside as he helped AC Milan reach the Champions League semi-finals last season.

“It will be the most thrilling feeling to come out into the stadium packed with people again,” said Tonali. “They let me live my dream here at AC Milan but now I come back as a rival. I will have a lot of feelings tomorrow.

“Everything happened so fast with the transfer, I was overwhelmed at first, but I have come across a wonderful team, wonderful staff and play for people who love football. The people of Newcastle will help anyone.”