New Newcastle signing Joelinton my toughest opponent, reveals Dortmund defender Akanji

Joelinton Newcastle 2019-20Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund defender Manuel Akanji has revealed that new Newcastle United signing Joelinton was his toughest opponent last season.

The Brazilian striker moved to Tyneside from Hoffenheim last month in a club-record £35 million ($44m) deal, eclipsing the previous record of £20.5 million ($27m), which the Magpies paid to sign Paraguay star Miguel Almiron from Atlanta United earlier this year.

He has already made a positive impression on Tyneside, scoring on his full debut in their 3-1 friendly win against Scottish side Hibernian at Easter Road on Wednesday.

The 22-year-old scored 11 times in 35 appearances in all competitions for German outfit Hoffenheim last season, including a goal in a 1-1 draw against Akanji’s Dortmund last September.

Speaking exclusively to Goal and SPOX, Switzerland defender Akanji was quick to pick out Joelinton as the toughest opponent he had faced throughout the campaign.

"Last season, Joelinton when he was at Hoffenheim was very good,” said Akanji, who joined Dortmund from Swiss side Basel in January 2018.

"He's now moved to Newcastle but he was technically good and he was fast and physically strong. He played really well against us and also scored a goal."

When asked about his best Dortmund team-mate, Akanji added: "Marco Reus. He has incredible qualities; he's very smart and always looking forwards. He knows that he's not the strongest but he makes up for it with his technique and his understanding of the game.”

The 24-year-old was also keen to highlight the merits of some of his other team-mates, including England international Jadon Sancho.

"There are so many players with special qualities. Jadon Sancho, for example, is only 19 years old and plays with a care-free attitude that is rare," he added.

"Raphael Guerreiro has incredible technique and I'm always happy when he's in my team in training. I could list even more players though."

Dortmund begin their campaign against champions Bayern Munich in the DFL-Supercup at the Westfalenstadion on Saturday.

Newcastle, meanwhile, face French side Saint-Etienne at St James’ Park the same day in their final pre-season friendly of the summer before hosting Arsenal in their Premier League opener on August 11.