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Pioli knew nothing about 'sensible' Tonali's gambling issues
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Callum Rice-Coates
Sandro Tonali won the Serie A title under Stefano Pioli at Milan
Sandro Tonali won the Serie A title under Stefano Pioli at Milan

AC Milan manager Stefano Pioli is backing Sandro Tonali to bounce back from his ten-month ban after illegal betting charges.

The Newcastle midfielder, signed from the Serie A side in the summer, made 12 appearances for his new club before the punishment was enforced.

And Pioli has insists he was unaware of the 23-year-old's off-the-pitch issues ahead of his side's Champions League clash with Newcastle at St James' Park.

He said: "He [Tonali] was very polite, respected and respectful to others, he was a very sensible boy.

"Even if I feel I have an open relationship with the players, I only talk to them about football. What they do outside, I don’t know everything about them.

"His football quality and tactical quality, technical, physical quality, there’s no doubt about him. He’s a great player.

"We’re close to Sandro. When he was with us, he was a really cheerful, positive young man, close to the team, popular, very important to the team’s rise, applied himself, worked hard, very willing to help the team.

Sandro Tonali joined Newcastle for £55million in July
Sandro Tonali joined Newcastle for £55million in July

"Unfortunately, he fell into a delicate situation. We’re with him, we’re close to him and we hope this experience will teach him and help him be better in the future.

"At the moment they [Newcastle] signed him, it was a good deal, they signed a very good player. Then what happened afterwards, no-one could have expected it."

Pioli was also asked about Zlatan Ibrahimovic's new role as an advisor at Milan.

He added: "Zlatan is taking the next step of his career.

"He’s always been a top character, a top player.

"He’s faced every challenge with determination, with intelligence and this is a new challenge for him and he’ll show the same personality, the same characteristics to do everything to help the club."


Champions LeagueNewcastle UnitedSandro TonaliAC Milan
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