Eddie Howe insists Newcastle are committed long term to Sandro Tonali
Eddie Howe has insisted an “emotional” Sandro Tonali has a future at Newcastle as he awaits the outcome of an investigation into alleged betting breaches.
The 23-year-old Italy midfielder, who joined the Magpies from AC Milan in a £55million summer move, could face a lengthy ban as the club considers its options.
However, Howe has vowed to offer all the support he can to a player he believes can play a major role in his team.
Asked if Tonali has and wants a future at St James’ Park, he said: “That’s not even been discussed because that’s a yes on both sides.
“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.”
Howe added: “The most important part of this whole incident is Sandro and his welfare. It’s very easy for people to forget how young he is, the changes he’s had in his life coming from Italy to England.
“That’s hard enough to deal with, and now he has, of course, this situation, so we as a football club straight away, it was throw our arms around him and protect him and try to give him the love and support that he needs to find solutions to the problems that 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 the people around him that are going to be so important to him as well.
“I have to say, he’s handled himself superbly well. He’s been obviously emotional, but handled himself with respect and dignity.”
Tonali, along with Italy team-mate Nicolo Zaniolo, is subject to investigation by the Italian Prosecutor’s Office and Italian Football Federation (FIGC) in relation to illegal betting activity.
His agent Giuseppe Riso has claimed the player is dealing with a “gambling addiction” with reports from Italy suggesting he had bet on former club AC Milan winning games.
Howe said: “I got a phone call from (sporting director) Dan Ashworth during the international break and it was a total surprise to me, to him, to everybody.
“But these are things that can happen and my immediate thought process was for Sandro and making sure he’s okay so yeah, a difficult period for him.”
Howe, who revealed Tonali has trained this week and is under consideration for Saturday’s Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace on Tyneside, was more reticent when asked about the deal which brought the player to the club, and the relationship between football and gambling.
When asked if the club was exploring the intricacies of the deal, he added: “I’m sure the club will be doing what the club needs to do. But from my side, I can’t comment on that because I’m not party to those conversations.
“That is one for Dan and people above me to answer.”
Tonali’s situation has once again highlighted the links between sport and gambling.
Newcastle currently have partnerships with three betting companies, FUN88, BetMGM and Sportsbet.io.
Asked if that was a concern, Howe said: “That’s a difficult one for me to comment on. My job is to coach the team, manage the team and that’s what I’ll do. It’s probably best that I stick to those subjects.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub