Mon 16 Oct 2023, 09:10 · Ash Harrison

Embattled £55m Newcastle star to return to training today as investigation continues

Embattled £55m Newcastle star to return to training today as investigation continues
Owen Humphreys/PA
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Newcastle United midfielder Sandro Tonali is expected to return to training with the club this morning amid the ongoing investigation that saw him sent home from the Italy camp.

Okay, so we weren't going to mention is as it's all a bit too legal right now, so we'll not repeat any detail beyond the obvious, but Newcastle midfielder Sandro Tonali is under investigation for betting while he was at AC Milan before his £55million switch to Newcastle.

Tonali has since admitted to having a gambling problem and is cooperating with the investigation which also includes Aston Villa's Nicolo Zaniolo, who was at one time linked with a move to Tyneside, and Juventus' Nicolo Fagiolo who was the first to come forward.

If found guilty, Tonali could face a minimum 3-year ban from football, although with a plea deal that could be knocked down to 18 months. Either way, Eddie Howe will be without his big summer signing for a long time.

It's all a huge mess and really not what Newcastle need right now. Personally, and I said this about Brentford's Ivan Toney when his similar case came to light, so I have to say it now - I believe that, given that Tonali has admitted that he has done something that contravenes Italy's gambling rules, he should immediately be banned while the investigation is ongoing, and then when the time comes that they have everything sorted, he will have already served a chunk of the ban.

That would be good for Newcastle, but also fair for the rest of the Premier League. Tonali's involvement in any match between now and the verdict could affect the outcome of the league. Toney was banging in goals left and right while under investigation and definitely influenced the final table last year.

Tonali AC
Tonali in his Milan days

Obviously, if Tonali was denying everything that's a different matter, but he's provided officials with what they need and admitted to having a gambling problem, so there is some guilt there which would warrant a ban. Just get it started now and get it over with.

The risk now is that Tonali starts to really find his feet at Newcastle, becomes a huge player for us and then he gets slapped with a ban and we really miss him. Right now his form has been hit and miss and, as much as it pains me to say it, he'll not be a huge miss to the side if the ban were to take effect immediately.

All that is just my opinion, though, I don't expect anybody will agree.

The reality is, Tonali is reporting back to Benton this morning for training and is still eligible to play while under investigation, so hopefully he can put all this to the back of his mind and start showing the Premier League why he was coveted so much by Eddie Howe.