Get to Know Sandro Tonali

Now, the ‘face’ of the Italian national team has changed. After failing to appear at the 2018 World Cup, Italy cleaned up. The Azzurri team is now filled with young players who, if they are named, may not be familiar to our ears.

There are goalkeepers Alex Meret (23 years), defender Gianluca Mancini (24 years), midfielder Nicolo Barella (23 years), Lorenzo Pellegrini (24 years), as well as striker Federico Chiesa (22 years) and Riccardo Orsolini (23 years).

Of the many young Italians, there is one name that had stuck out in the player transfer market ahead of the 2020/21 season competition. His name is Sandro Tonali.

This young man who is only 20 years old is now in demand by the top three Italian teams, Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan. In fact, Italian Football said Barcelona and Manchester United were also interested in recruiting this Brescia player.

In mid-August, Tonali was rumored to join Inter Milan. Quoted from the Italian Football, the President of the Brescia club, Massimo Cellino, said that his party had almost a deal with Inter Milan.

However, the agreement that was already in sight failed to materialize. The reason was, the Inter city team, AC Milan, also came to bid for Tonali. Hearing that Milan was interested, this midfielder also agreed to join AC Milan instead of Inter. The reason is, since he was a child, he has indeed grown into an AC Milan fan.

“As soon as Milan made an offer, he did not see other options. We also got offers from Barcelona and Manchester United, but he loves Milan and immediately wanted to go there as soon as he heard Milan were interested in getting him,” continued Cellino.

Tonali is considered the successor of Andrea Pirlo. In fact, what makes Tonali special?

Tonali, who was born on May 8, 2000, is indeed considered one of the most promising young Italian players. Mainly in his position as a regista – a midfielder who plays in front of the defenders.

Tonali’s great talent has already been smelled by the media when he defended Brescia in Serie B in the 2017/18 season. In his first season as a pro, Tonali appeared in 19 matches.

He was even able to make two goals and two assists (assists that lead to goals). At the end of the season, he was awarded the 2018 Serie B Footballer of the Year. Some of the top names who have also received this award include Ciro Immobile, Marco Verratti, and Lorenzo Insigne.

In the following season, Tonali’s role in Brescia was increasingly trusted. He played in 4 matches with Brescia and scored a goal. The 2018/19 season was perfect for him. Brescia was promoted to Serie A. In addition, he was rewarded with the 2019 Serie B Best Young Player award.

Tonali again showed a mature appearance at the age of 20 when defending Brescia in the Serie A 2019/20 season. Although Brescia was eventually relegated, the name of Tonali did not sink too. In fact, in July 2019, he was named by UEFA as one of the 50 promising young players to watch for the 2019-20 season.

“He has something different, we just have to accompany him to a great career,” said Eugenio Corini, former Tonali coach at Brescia. In the Italian media, Tonali is often seen as an incarnation of Andrea Pirlo. Yes, Tonali is often equated with the former Italian national team midfielder who is now Juventus coach.

The reason is, Tonalli is in the same position as Pirlo. As a regista, he is considered to have the movement, coordination, appearance, technical quality and playing style like Pirlo. One more thing, Tonali played at Brescia which was Pirlo’s starting club before being known as one of the most influential Italian midfielders.

However, interestingly, in an interview, Tonali actually said it was too much to be equated with a maestro like Pirlo. “They compare me to Pirlo maybe because my haircut is the same. It looks like I have to cut my hair,” said Tonali.

“Pirlo cannot be compared. He is unreachable. Like [Steven] Gerrard, who is very dynamic or [Luka] Modric, whose game is unique. I see myself more like [Gennaro] Gattuso,” he continued.

The latest news is that the Italian media are still waiting for Milan to officially introduce Tonali as part of the I’rossoneri family – nickname of AC Milan. Some media have mentioned the possibility of Tonali officially wearing Milan’s uniform this week.

If he does come to AC Milan, it will be interesting to see how Tonali can develop into a big player. Just like Pirlo or also Gerrard, Modric, and Gattuso. But for sure, Tonali will grow to be himself.

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