Newcastle eyeing Saudi Arabia raid and want Ruben Neves to replace banned Sandro Tonali

The January loan swoop could prompt some difficult questions.

Newcastle eyeing Saudi Arabia raid and want Ruben Neves to replace banned Sandro Tonali
Newcastle want Ruben Neves to replace banned Sandro Tonali
The January loan swoop could prompt some difficult questions (Pictures: Getty Images)

Newcastle United are exploring a potential January move for Al-Hilal’s Ruben Neves as they look to bring in a replacement for Sandro Tonali following his ban, according to reports.

On Thursday it was confirmed by Italy’s football federation that the former AC Milan midfielder would be suspended for the next 10 months after breaking his country’s gambling regulations.

Tonali will therefore miss the remainder of the Premier League campaign as well as next summer’s European Championships, though – unlike Brentford’s Ivan Toney – he will be allowed to train throughout his ban.

The news is a huge blow for Newcastle, who also lost Jacob Murphy to a serious looking shoulder injury in their Champions League defeat to Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.

After that match, manager Eddie Howe admitted his ‘small squad’ was already being stretched and he is expected to bring in a replacement midfielder in January, with Tonali having been his marquee signing in the summer.

Following the first news of Tonali’s looming ban earlier this month, links quickly emerged to the likes of Manchester City’s Kalvin Phillips and Manchester United’s Scott McTominay, but now it appears Neves may be the prime candidate.

According to The Sun, Newcastle have already begun exploring a loan move for Neves though any deal could raise a few eyebrows among rival Premier League clubs.

Al-Hilal midfielder Ruben Neves wanted by Newcastle
Neves could make a quick return to the Premier League (Picture: Getty)

Newcastle are owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, who also own Neves’ Al-Hilal and three other clubs in the Saudi Pro League.

Neves moved to the Middle East from Wolves in a £47million deal in the summer and an immediate return to the Premier League – either on loan or for a cut-price fee – could raise questions.

The Guardian are also reporting Newcastle’s interest in Neves, though suggest McTominay or Phillips may be preferred as they are better fits for Howe’s aggressive pressing style.

Tonali, meanwhile, will have to make at least 16 trips to Italy during his ban to talk to players at assorted levels of football about the dangers of betting as part of his rehabilitation programme.

He must spend the next eight months doing so, also visiting addiction clinics, and he could face being barred from football for a further eight months if he misses any of his engagements.

There had been suggestions in the Italian press that Newcastle could dock Tonali’s wages during his ban, though that is not believed to be the case, while the prospect of the Magpies taking legal action against AC Milan is dwindling.

MORE : Newcastle United midfielder Sandro Tonali given 10-month ban for betting breaches in Italy

MORE : Eddie Howe issues Alexander Isak and Jacob Murphy updates after Newcastle lose to Dortmund

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