Former Man Utd and Newcastle striker Louis Saha has declared that big-money signing Sandro Tonali won’t take the Magpies to ‘the next level.’
Eddie Howe guided Newcastle to a fantastic season last term, securing a fourth-place finish and reaching the League Cup final.
This is largely due to the savvy business the manager has conducted since his arrival at the club. Bringing in quality players such as Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimaraes and Alexander Isak, to name a few.
However, Saha is sceptical that Tonali –who became the most expensive Italian player in Premier League history after joining Newcastle for €70m (£60m) – will be enough to prepare them for the Champions League.
“Sandro Tonali is not a statement signing for Newcastle United. He is a great player and still young but he’s not a statement,” Saha said.
“A statement signing would be someone who is already recognised as a world class player and those are the types of profiles that Newcastle are aiming for.
“They need one or two world-class signings to show they are at the next level because they are now in the Champions League next season.
“Tonali is a very good prospect, but they still need someone proven in the Premier League, there is still some way to go towards making a statement.
“Three signings like this [Tonali] would be a statement, or one world-class player would be a statement.”
Saha backs Gordon to thrive under Howe
However, one player who Saha was more positive about was Anthony Gordon. The 22-year-old made the switch to St James’ Park last January and has struggled to break into Howe’s starting XI. But, Saha is confident things will change for him next term.
“Anthony Gordon can force his way into Newcastle team next season,” Saha insisted.
“Joining a club in the January transfer window is always difficult. Mentally, you have been waiting for the transfer and you also have to try to fit in – it can take time to adjust physically.
“All of these factors into your confidence as a player and it is so important to fit in with your teammates.
“Newcastle were also still improving and changing their way of doing things. They had a set group of players playing regularly.
“Pre-season will be helpful for him and, the form he has shown at the Under 21 Euros will be very helpful.
“Things change from one year to another so it’s up to him to take his chance and get his confidence back to the level he had at Everton.
“He doesn’t have to worry, he’s young, he has legs, but it is up to him to show positive body language as that will help him link with the fans and also the players he’s playing with.
“The form he’s showing at the Euros is what we want to see from him on a regular basis.”
With that in mind, it will be interesting to see how Tonali and Gordon fare at Newcastle in the coming season.