Former Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino has defended the character of Newcastle United midfielder Sandro Tonali amid the ongoing betting investigation.
Tonali is subject to investigation following his involvement in a gambling scandal, which now threatens significant repercussions for the Italy international midfielder.
The 23-year-old is alleged to have gambled on AC Milan games during his three-year stint with the Italian heavyweights. But Cellino has slammed the investigation, labelling Tonali as a ‘clean guy.’.
The Brescia president, who was reportedly a father figure to Tonali throughout his formative years at the Italian club, has called out the investigation as a ploy to destroy the player’s career.
“I can bet my soul he is a clean guy with principles,” Cellino told the Telegraph.
“All my players in Brescia love him. The first time he had money, he bought a car for his father, a carpenter. His mum was a nurse, and he bought her a house. Dishonest? Come on.
“They don’t realise what they are doing to this boy. If Tonali does that, how many others? I don’t want to know.
“He is a top player, a clean player who wanted to become a football player. The first thing was about playing football, but Milan is a city that can become very open to bad company.”
Reports in Italy claim Tonali has admitted to prosecutors that he placed bets on Milan fixtures when he was not playing and is facing serious consequences for his actions.
Tonali faces a year-long suspension, but for now, the midfielder is in contention to feature for Newcastle as they prepare to welcome Crystal Palace to St James’ Park this weekend.
Following his £55 million move from Milan during the summer, Tonali has established himself as a prominent member of Eddie Howe’s squad, featuring ten times across all competitions.
Newcastle have also released a statement confirming that the midfielder is fully cooperating with the investigation but refrained from releasing any further information.
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