How Sandro Tonali and his Italian predecessors fared on Premier League debuts

Italian stars have endured mixed fortunes on their Premier League debuts.

Damian Spellman
Monday 14 August 2023 13:07 BST
Sandro Tonali (right) scored on his first appearance for Newcastle in a 5-1 victory over Aston Villa (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Sandro Tonali (right) scored on his first appearance for Newcastle in a 5-1 victory over Aston Villa (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Newcastle new boy Sandro Tonali announced himself in the Premier League with a stunning debut in Saturday’s 5-1 demolition of Aston Villa.

However, the £52million former AC Milan midfielder is not the first Italian to make an early impact, for better or for worse, in England’s top flight.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at how he and some of his predecessors fared in their first appearances.

Sandro Tonali

Newcastle invested heavily in 23-year-old Italy international Tonali this summer and he wasted little time in starting to pay off his fee. He scored six minutes into his competitive debut at St James’ Park and went on to produce a fine individual display to inspire the Magpies to a victory which suggested they picked up where they left off at the end of the previous campaign.

Fabrizio Ravanelli

Former Juventus frontman Ravanelli made perhaps the most eye-catching debut of all the Premier League’s Italian stars after swapping Turin for Middlesbrough in a £7million move. The man known as “The White Feather” plundered a hat-trick in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Liverpool at the Riverside Stadium on the opening day of the 1996-97 season, in the process unveiling his trademark shirt-over-head celebration to a new audience.

Attilio Lombardo

Promoted Crystal Palace raised eyebrows with the £1.6million swoop for Lombardo, who had played a key role in Juventus’ Serie A title win the previous season, during the summer of 1997. Dubbed “The Bald Eagle” by Palace supporters, he made his Premier League bow on August 9 in a 2-1 victory at Everton in which he scored the opening goal and swiftly endeared himself to the Eagles faithful with an inspirational display.

Massimo Taibi

Goalkeeper Taibi’s arrival at Manchester United came amid an injury crisis following the departure of treble-winning Peter Schmeichel with Mark Bosnich and Raimond Van Der Gouw both unavailable. The £4.5m signing from Venezia endured mixed fortunes on his debut at Liverpool in September 1999, his error allowing Sami Hyypia to drag the home side back into the game before he made late saves to deny Vladimir Smicer and Robbie Fowler and secure a 3-2 victory in which Jamie Carragher scored two own goals.

Bernardo Corradi

Former Inter Milan, Lazio and Valencia striker Corradi arrived at Manchester City during the summer of 2006, but his career in England got off to a bad start and went downhill from there. He made his debut in a 3-0 defeat at Chelsea in which he was sent off for two bookable offences – and took 13 games to score the first of just three goals for the club before eventually being released with a year of his contract remaining.

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