Fri 20 Oct 2023, 10:59 · Ash Harrison

‘Very difficult: Eddie Howe now shares his reaction when he heard the news about Tonali

‘Very difficult: Eddie Howe now shares his reaction when he heard the news about Tonali
BBC
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Eddie Howe has now shared how he felt when Dan Ashworth called him to break the news about Sandro Tonali.

Newcastle United sporting director Dan Ashworth had to make what was probably one of the more awkward phone calls of his career last week as he called Eddie Howe to tell him what was going on with Sandro Tonali.

The £55million summer signing from AC Milan had been sent home from the Italy national training camp after being exposed as being involved in a betting scandal which also affected Nicolo Zaniolo of Aston Villa and Juventus player Nicolo Fagioli.

Tonali faces anything up to a three-year worldwide ban from all football-related activity

Tonali's involvement was brought to light as Fagioli grassed him up within minutes of handing himself into authorities as part of an investigation after Nicolo Fagioli came forward to authorities with his account.

For his pro-activeness and cooperation, Fagioli only received a seven-month ban from football where Sandro Tonali is facing anything between one and three years depending on where you read the report and which direction the wind is blowing when it was written.

Eddie Howe has recalled how it caught him completely off guard when Dan Ashworth called him to break the news. Howe told reporters in his pre-match media briefing (via The Chronicle) how it shocked everyone at the club.

Howe has spoken of his unconditional support for Tonali

"I got a phonecall from Dan Ashworth, I can't remember what day it was but it was during the international break. A total surprise to me, to him, to everybody. These are the things in this job and this role that can happen. As I said my immediate process was for Sandro and making sure he was ok. A very difficult period.

"There's so many different things in people's personal lives that can happen. Footballers are human beings and to look at them anything other is wrong. We all have vulnerabilities, weaknesses, things that happen in our lives that can be difficult so the main thing is if we identify it, support the player as we'll always do, try and help them get to their best level on the football pitch."

Howe now has to decide if he keeps playing Tonali to get the most out of his £55million before he inevitably can't pick him any more, or whether he feels the pressure to perform with so much going on behind the scenes may be too much.