Newcastle's transfer 'emphasis' even after 'impossible' Sandro Tonali claim

Newcastle United will again place huge importance on the character of prospective signings this summer.

Newcastle are not only looking at players who could improve the squad and fit the club's playing style. The Magpies are also putting 'a lot of emphasis' on targets' mentality and conduct off the field, too, in order to maintain harmony in a tight-knit dressing room.

When Newcastle announced a deal for Lloyd Kelly earlier this month, for instance, Eddie Howe referenced the defender's leadership qualities that will make him a 'great fit within our squad' as much as the 25-year-old's 'undoubted defensive ability'. Those qualities are all the more important following the departure of experienced figures like Matt Ritchie and Paul Dummett.

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New signings do not necessarily have to be squeaky clean, but they must have good values and buy into the work ethic and togetherness that have been a constant under Howe to date. Howe is hands-on in this respect, tapping into his own contacts book to discreetly speak to those in the game who have worked with leading targets, such as their former managers.

Howe has also been known to use recruitment consultants over the years, including Anton Robinson, who previously told ChronicleLive that the Newcastle boss wants to know 'every single detail about the person', whether it is his living situation, motivations or interests outside the game.

That is not always possible, of course, as Newcastle ultimately discovered with Sandro Tonali, who went on to receive a 10-month betting ban not long after his move from AC Milan. Senior figures at the club have repeatedly stressed it would have been 'impossible' to have known about a private gambling addiction that Tonali kept from those closest to him.

However, by the same token, loan coordinator Shola Ameobi previously revealed that the way Newcastle recruit and the manner in which the Magpies 'scrutinise every incoming player will be different now because of what's happened' as Howe touched on himself.

"Of course it will make you think, rethink and double check, but I still don't know how you go there," the Newcastle boss told reporters last month. "I still don't know how you go to those levels so it's a difficult one to say with certainty that when you sign a player, you're going to know 100% everything that's happening in their life.

"It will certainly make us more aware, of course. It would be stupid if we don't change certain things or try to get as close as we can to making sure that we don't end up in this situation again."