It’d be fair to say Sandro Tonali announced himself as a Premier League player on Saturday evening.
After some initial caution about his adaptation period during Newcastle United’s pre-season tour of the United States, Tonali made a statement during his first competitive appearance in English football.
Fewer than ten minutes into his bow against Aston Villa, the 23-year-old scored the first goal of his Newcastle career. Minutes later, he could have had a second. Not long after that, he provided the pre-assist for Alexander Isak’s first goal.
Remarkable stuff from the midfielder and a debut that had pundit Jamie Redknapp purring.
Indeed, he wasn’t the only one.
Alan Shearer posts wordless reaction to Sandro Tonali’s Newcastle debut
Club legend Alan Shearer was also impressed.
After the game, Tonali took to Instagram, captioning a photo of himself celebrating: “Could not have asked for a better start in my new home. Such an incredible emotion to score on my Premier League debut at St. James Park.
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“Thanks to all the amazing fans! Up the Toon.”
In response, the legendary Shearer – who knows a thing or two about scoring at St James’ Park – commented four hand clapping emojis.
Tougher tests will come but what a start
After so many jibes from rival supporters suggesting Tonali did not want to be at Newcastle, that was some way to get up and running.
To have played such a key role against a team many are tipping to rival Eddie Howe’s side towards the top of the Premier League this season was a statement of intent.
Harder tests will come of course. Next week, the Magpies are at Manchester City and Bruno Guimaraes has already made it clear just how difficult a task that is.
Still, that is a perfect way to truly test just how far this team have come over the course of the summer.
More of these kind of performances from Tonali and perhaps the gap will get smaller.