Tonali and Zaniolo to hold talks with Newcastle and Aston Villa chiefs

Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo will hold talks with Newcastle and Aston Villa chiefs after leaving the Italy squad amid investigation into alleged illegal betting

  • Under Italian regulations athletes cannot bet on sports in which they participate 
  • Juventus star Nicolo Fagioli has also been named as part of the investigation 
  • Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off!’ 

Nicolo Zaniolo and Sandro Tonali will hold talks with Aston Villa and Newcastle chiefs after they were released from the Italy squad amid an investigation into alleged illegal betting.

Both Villa winger Zaniolo and Newcastle midfielder Tonali were questioned on Thursday by Italian authorities at the squad’s training base on the outskirts of Florence. It is believed their phones and devices were taken away for a time.

Zaniolo, Tonali and Juventus midfielder Nicolo Fagioli have all been named as part of the investigation, with worldwide bans of up to three years possible if they are found to have broken rules.

Under Italian regulations, athletes are forbidden from betting on the sports in which they participate.

Newcastle will await Tonali’s return before talking to him. It is understood he was last in Milan liaising with his lawyers.

Sandro Tonali will be holding talks with Newcastle chiefs after being released from the Italy squad, with Nicolo Zaniolo doing the same at Aston Villa

Zaniolo was believed to be returning to England on Friday afternoon after leaving the camp

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Zaniolo was believed to be returning to England on Friday afternoon with Villa officials expected to seek discussions with the winger at the earliest opportunity. Zaniolo has a strong relationship with Villa transfer chief Monchi, who brought him to the Premier League after the pair also worked together at Roma.

Rather than rush to judgement, Villa’s priority is to comprehend fully the nature of the allegations and hear the player’s explanation. At this stage, it is understood the 24-year-old will face no action from his club while the investigation is ongoing.

Reports in Italy suggest Zaniolo’s explanation is that he was playing blackjack on a site that he did not realise was illegal, and that he did not bet on football at all. 

Gambling that is unrelated to football or even sport is unlikely to result in any kind of punishment. 

Zaniolo is currently on loan at Villa from Galatasaray. The deal comes with an option to buy him for about £40million at the end of the season, which will become an obligation to buy after Zaniolo has hit certain targets. He has so far played nine times, without scoring.

Italy boss Luciano Spalletti said: ‘It is right that we look to defend them and help them but then justice will take its course. If rules were broken then it is right that a price should be paid.

‘We need to talk about the risk of falling into these temptations. We need to speak to these young people about the fact there are these pitfalls.’

Luciano Spalletti claimed that it was ‘right’ that Italy look to defend their two young stars and allow justice to ‘take its course’


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