Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe has expressed support for midfielder Sandro Tonali, who is embroiled in an investigation into alleged illegal betting activity.
The club confirmed earlier this week that Tonali, signed from AC Milan this summer, is under investigation by the Italian prosecutor’s office and the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) due to allegations of involvement with illegal betting platforms.
However, the club emphasised that the Italian international is fully cooperating with the ongoing investigation.
Tonali’s agent, Giuseppe Riso, disclosed that the player has been battling a gambling addiction and shed light on the challenges Tonali is facing.
Despite the ongoing investigation, Tonali remains eligible to play for Newcastle against Crystal Palace this weekend.
In a press conference ahead of the match, Howe made it abundantly clear that his top priority is supporting the 23-year-old during this tumultuous period.
Howe said (via The Athletic): “For me, it is absolutely crucial. The most important part of this whole incident is Sandro and his welfare.
“We feel as a football club straight away, it’s throw our arms around him, protect him and try to give him the love and support that he needs to find solutions to the problems he’s had.
“That’s what we’re endeavouring to do with a lot of conversations, a lot of communication with him and his family because it’s not just Sandro.
“It’s been a big effort from us, and I have to say he has handled himself superbly well. (He’s) obviously emotional but he’s handled himself with respect and dignity.”
Tonali is still waiting for the result of the investigation opened into him. Fellow Italy international Nicolo Fagioli, who was also involved in the scandal, has received a seven-month ban.
Tonali could be facing a similarly lengthy sentence.
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