Newcastle need to receive the maximum punishment over the Sandro Tonali suspension and should not be given a free pass to complete the signing of Ruben Neves from Al-Hilal, according to a less-than-impressed Jamie Carragher.
The Magpies spent a whopping €64m (£55m) to bring in classy Italy midfielder Tonali from AC Milan over the summer, becoming the second biggest fee they had laid out, behind the €70m (£60.1m) for Alexander Isak, in their history.
Arriving to plenty of acclaim and fanfare, Newcastle will no doubt have felt that the signing of the gifted 23-year-old was a stellar coup ahead of their first forray into Champions League football for some 20 years.
However, that delight very quickly turned to despair when, a matter of weeks after signing him, Tonali was hit with a lengthy 10-month suspension by the Italian FA for breaching betting regulations, dating back to his time as an AC Milan player.
That ban means Tonali’s season has already come to an end after just 12 appearances in the black and white. He’s also ineligble to participate in Italy’s quest to defend their European Championship title in the summer.
Tonali will now undergo therapy and rehabilitation in order to prevent him from falling victim to the strict betting regulations that prevent players from commiting such acts.
Still reeling from the blow, Newcastle can, however, sign a replacement in just over a month’s time when the January window opens for business.
To that end, the likes of Kalvin Phillips and Teun Koopmeiners have both been linked with moves to St James’ as a possible replacement.
However, most of the speculation has centred around a possible move for Neves, who only moved to Al-Hilal over the summer.
Premier League vote against rule blocking inter-club transfers
The former Wolves man caused a huge surprise when he quit Molineux to move to the Middle East in a €55m (£47m) move over the summer.
However, after we confirmed that Neves has failed to settle in Riyadh and has asked to leave, it is Newcastle who lead a plethora of clubs, that also includes Arsenal and Tottenham, in the race to sign the 26-year-old Portugal star.
To make their passage even smoother, Al-Hilal, like Newcastle are also owned by PIF, making prospective negotiations that bit easier to navigate.
And those chances have raised significantly after a vote which could have blocked transfers between clubs under the same ownership was marginally rejected by Premier League clubs.
The Premier League needed a two-thirds majority to pass such a motion; ultimately, however, the rulings stays as is after only seven clubs – Chelsea, Everton, Manchester City, Newcastle, Nottinhgam Forest, Sheffield United and Wolves – voted against it.
Now Newcastle could effectively go on to sign Neves on loan, despite the fact he only moved for such a hefty fee a matter of months earlier.
Carragher raging as Newcastle get clear path to Ruben Neves
Carragher, though, thinks that stinks and has vigorously lashed out at what he perceives as giving Newcastle a helping hand.
Speaking on the Stick To Football show, Carragher said: “The problem with it yesterday, which I don’t like, when you talk about Newcastle and you talk about Neves and it’s just almost like a rumour.
“When you think about Tonali, Newcastle have bought a player from AC Milan, and you could argue – strongly – that Newcastle haven’t done their due diligence.
“They don’t know enough about what’s going on in this guy’s private life, they’ve then spent a lot of money and they’re going to lose the player. Now that should hurt them as a club because they haven’t done things the right way.
“So they shouldn’t then be allowed to go and get, for instance, maybe a Neves – who is a £50m player – for free, on a loan, because they’ve made a mistake.
“If they’ve made a mistake, they should almost pay for it – like you would do with scouting and bringing players in.”
Gary Neville, meanwhile, believes bringing in such a rule would be difficult to regulate.
“This is beyond football people to stop this,” he countered.
“What you’d hope for, at some point in the future, is that good leadership will return to this country, generally not just in football but in parliament as well. And we’ll have a good government who basically bring back some sort of law and order and some empathy and some sort of social approach.
“That doesn’t mean that we can’t have an unbelievable Premier League, it just means that this type of manoeuvring – which we’re watching at the moment – financial manoeuvring, power shifts, political games that we see [might stop].
“I think what we’re seeing in the game at the moment is really dangerous.”
Tonali’s deal at Newcastle runs to 2028 and he can next appear for the Magpies in August 2024, though he is allowed to continue training with their first-team squad in the meantime.