El Shaarawy gets Italy recall as Tonali, Zaniolo exit amid betting probe

AFP , Friday 13 Oct 2023

AS Roma forward Stephan El Shaarawy was called up to the Italy team on Friday after Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo were sent home amid a probe into alleged gambling offences.

El Shaarawy
Roma forward Stephan El Shaarawy last played for Italy in March 2021. Photo: AFP


El Shaarawy is on his way to join his teammates at the national training centre at Coverciano, near Florence, and will be available for Friday's early training session, the FIGC confirmed.

El Shaarawy has scored six goals in 29 appearances for the Azzurri, but has not played since March 2021.

The 30-year-old has been relegated to a substitute at Roma since Belgian international Romelu Lukaku's arrival on loan from Chelsea, and has failed to score in eight matches in all competitions.

The former AC Milan and Shanghai Shenhua player's surprise return has been made possible after criminal prosecutors in Italy launched an investigation into alleged sports betting.

Three players, including Tonali, who moved from AC Milan to Newcastle this summer, and Zaniolo, who left Roma for Aston Villa in July, were questioned by police.

On Thursday, investigators showed up at Coverciano to notify Tonali and Zaniolo that they were under investigation and to interview them.

The pair will miss Italy's Euro 2024 qualifying matches with Malta and England, with the European champions second in Group C but level on seven points with Ukraine and North Macedonia.

Tonali became the most expensive Italian footballer when Newcastle bought him from AC Milan in the summer for a reported £60 million ($73 million), and the 23-year-old has played 15 times for his country.

Zaniolo, who also has 15 international caps, was once the rising young star of Italian football but two serous knee injuries and a falling out with Jose Mourinho at Roma led to him being shipped off to Galatasaray, who loaned him to Villa in August.

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