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Tonali has future at Newcastle despite betting probe, says Howe

Newcastle United midfielder Sandro Tonali. Photo: Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

Eddie Howe insists Sandro Tonali has a future at Newcastle as the Italian midfielder awaits the outcome of an investigation into alleged breaches of betting rules.

The 23-year-old, a £55 million ($67 million) signing from Milan in July, is at the centre of a probe in Italy and could face a lengthy ban.

Newcastle earlier this week issued a statement confirming Tonali was subject to investigation by the Italian prosecutor’s office and Italian Football Federation in relation to “illegal betting activity”.

“Sandro is fully engaging with the investigation and will continue to cooperate with all relevant authorities,” it said.

Howe was asked on Friday whether the midfielder had and wanted a future at St James’ Park.

“That’s not even been discussed because that’s a ‘yes’ on both sides,” he said.

“We will support him and back him and we see him being part of our team for many years, and I know that’s the same back from his side to us.

“There are some things I feel you don’t have to say. We are committed to him long-term.”

Tonali left the Italy camp last week after reports of the investigation emerged but Howe said he was available to face Crystal Palace on Saturday.

“He’s had a very difficult couple of weeks,” he said. “He’s been dealing with a lot and from what I can see he’s handling himself and his emotions strongly.

“Underneath that I’m sure there is lots going on. I’ll have to make a call but I have to bring it back to football and try to make the best decision for the team.”

Howe said it was vital to support his player.

“It’s very easy to forget how young he is,” said the Newcastle boss. “He’s had changes in his life — coming from Italy to England. That is hard enough to deal with and now he has this situation.

“As a football club, straight away we will throw our arms around him, protect him, try to give him the love and support he needs to find solutions to problems he’s had.”

Howe added: “Footballers are human beings. To look at them any other way is wrong. They have, as we all have, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, things that happen can be difficult. 

“The main thing is to try and identify it as we always do and try to help them get to the best level on football pitch.”

Aston Villa’s Nicolo Zaniolo was also sent home from Italy’s training camp after he was notified he was under investigation for alleged gambling offences.

Villa issued a statement on Friday confirming the 24-year-old midfielder was assisting Italian authorities and had met with senior officials at the club.

The statement added: “Zaniolo is training as normal with the first-team squad and available for selection ahead of this weekend’s match with West Ham United.”

On Tuesday, Juventus and Italy midfielder Nicolo Fagioli was handed a seven-month ban for breaching betting rules.

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