Sandro Tonali was playing in the U-21 Euros for Italy when he got the news that AC Milan had agreed to sell him to Newcastle United. The youngster was heartbroken, as he was regarded as the future leader of the club. Milan chose to sell their midfielder for a huge profit and spent the money on this transfer to recruit other players. They brought his replacement from the Netherlands in the form of Tijjani Reijnders.
The 25-year-old was playing for AZ Alkmaar in the Dutch Eredivisie. Milan were busy in the transfer window after a disappointing end to their title defence in 2022–23. They are one of the biggest clubs in Italy and are looking to get to the top of the table in Europe as well. Reijnders joined the club after impressing with his performances for the Dutch club. Let’s take a look at what Sandro Tonali’s replacement could bring to the San Siro.
A top team requires contributions from every player, especially their midfielders. Players in the centre of the park can win games for their team. Tijjani is a versatile midfielder who can play in the holding role as well as in the attacking role. He created six goals for his team in 47 combined appearances in the Eredivisie and the UEFA Conference League. The 25-year-old created 78 shot-assist chances. He dictated the play from outside the box and was effective on set pieces as well.
Reijnders also chipped in with eight goals in the 2022–23 campaign. This was his best tally in his short career. The player averaged nearly two shots per 90 minutes and had a decent accuracy rate of 34%. He was not shy about taking attempts from outside the penalty box and often saw his shots blocked by the opposition players.
A midfielder has to contribute at both ends of the field. Tijjani Reijnders made defensive contributions in 2022–23 and showed discipline on the field. He won 61% of his defensive duels but struggled in the air. The 25-year-old was conservative in his approach and gave away around 0.87 fouls per 90 minutes. Most of these fouls were made around the centre circle. The midfielder also made 3.95 interceptions per 90 minutes for his team.
How has Tonali’s replacement turned out to be?
Tijjani Reijnders has started in every Serie A game this season. He provided an assist in his league debut against Bologna. The midfielder has played as an LCMF and dictated the play. His passing stats are decent, and the player has recorded an accuracy of 92.3%.
Sandro Tonali and Reijnders have different game styles. The Dutch midfielder likes to attack more than the Italian youngster. The above graph compares the percentile ranks of the two in their respective leagues. Reijnders has edged out the former AC Milan midfielder and will look to improve in the ongoing campaign.
AC Milan will be disappointed with the result at Inter Milan. A 5-1 loss in the derby will be hard to digest for the team. However, the new signings have shown some hope of improvement, and Milan will look to compete with their neighbours for the league title.
Visuals via TFA data viz engine