Thu 28 Mar 2024, 16:29 · Liam Brusby

Four potential midfield replacements for Newcastle if Sandro Tonali is banned again

Four potential midfield replacements for Newcastle if Sandro Tonali is banned again
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Upon hearing the news that Newcastle United forward Sandro Tonali has been charged by the FA for misconduct in relation to their betting rules. Attention must turn to the worst possible outcome which is Tonali receiving another ban.

Although it's not time for Eddie Howe to cut his losses, he needs to prepare himself for bad news.

Here are four players who could replace Tonali in midfield.


1 - Khephren Thuram

Team: OGC Nice

23/24 Apps (Goals): 22 (1)

Transfermarkt Value: €35m

Son of former Juventus and Barcelona defender Lilian, Khepren has made a big impression in at OGC Nice since joining in 2019. The 23-year-old made his debut for the French national team in March 2023 in a 4-0 win against the Netherlands and has been a consistent youth team player.

Like Tonali, one of Thuram's main strengths is his passing. This season, he has averaged over 40 passes per-game with an 87% pass completion rate.

Thuram also doesn't have any bother dropping a bit deeper and playing as a number six.

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2 - Mikel Merino

Team: Real Sociedad

23/24 Apps (Goals) 45 (8)

Transfermarkt Value: €50m

How good would it be if Merino returned to Newcastle. A player who signed under Rafa Benitez in 2017 and made Geordies fall in love with him. He's become such a talent since leaving the Spain the season after.

Merino is a player who likes to get stuck in and rises to a challenge.

According to FBRef, Merino is in the 99th percentile of aerial duels won (5.81) making him one of the best players in the world at that.

Although not the most defensive minded player, the addition of Merino would give Howe an experienced option in midfield and gives Bruno Guimaraes more freedom to roam and make things happen for Newcastle's attack.

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3 - Felix Nmecha

Team: Borussia Dortmund

23/24 Apps (Goals): 19 (1)

Transfermarkt Value: €25m

This is a player Newcastle fans should be familiar with, Nmecha scored the winning goal against the Magpies in Dortmund's visit to St James' Park last October.

Unfortunately, he picked up a hip injury not long after that night and has only recently returned to first team action. But he is still a player with immense quality.

Nmecha is in the 90th percentile in successful take-ons per 90 (1.41) and averages 1.24 interceptions per-game.

The 23-year-old is Dortmund's preferred central midfielder when fit, but it may take a hefty fee to take him away from the German club. His current deal runs out in 2028.

Matteo Guendouzi Champions League award Lazio

4 - Matteo Guendouzi

Team: Lazio (on loan from Marseille)

23/24 Apps (Goals): 36 (2)

Transfermarkt Value: €25m

This one is a bit left field, but Guendouzi would be a relatively cheap replacement for Tonali.

Statistically, he isn't the best. For a defensive minded player, he leaves a lot to be desired with 1.24 tackles per-90 and 0.40 aerial duels won.

The reason for choosing him is because his contract is up at the end of the 2024/25 season and he has been vocal about his displeasure with Marseille's hierarchy. So he looks set to be out the door.

I believe that Guendouzi does have a lot of quality left in him. If he gets in with the right players, under the right coaches, he could find the form that made him a valuable asset to Arsenal not too long ago.

I believe Newcastle boss Eddie Howe can work wonders for Guendouzi.