Newcastle United midfielder Sandro Tonali and Aston Villa winger Nicolo Zaniolo have been sent home from Italy's training camp, with reports suggesting they are being investigated over an illegal betting probe.
On Thursday, investigators showed up at Italy's training centre at Coverciano, near Florence, to notify Tonali and Zaniolo that they were under investigation and to interview them.
The Italian football federation (FIGC) said the players were not in the right “condition” to participate in Italy's two upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers.
The pair will miss matches with Malta and England, with the European champions second in Group C but level on seven points with Ukraine and North Macedonia.
“Regardless of the nature of the investigative order, given that in this situation the two players are not in the right condition to face the commitments of the coming days, the federation has decided … to allow them to return to their respective clubs,” the FIGC said.
The FIGC has not stated what the investigation is about, but Italian news agency ANSA reported it relates to an illegal betting probe.
The latest development comes a day after prosecutors announced an investigation into 22-year-old Juventus midfielder Nicolo Fagiol, who is alleged to have used a variety of identities to place bets on illegal websites.
Tonali became the most expensive Italian footballer of all time when he joined Newcastle from AC Milan in the summer for a reported £60 million ($73 million) from AC Milan. The 23-year-old has played 15 times for his country.
He made a flying start on Tyneside, scoring just six minutes into his debut against Aston Villa that saw the Magpies win 5-1 on the opening weekend of the Premier League.
Tonali was also in the starting line-up for Newcastle's 4-1 Champions League thrashing of Paris Saint-Germain although his form and his ability to train with his new teammates in the opening weeks of the season have been hampered by a thigh injury.
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.
Villa manager Unai Emery, speaking after Zaniolo had helped Villa beat Brighton 6-1 last month, has been impressed with how his new signing has performed since arriving at the Midlands club.
“His behaviour and commitment with us from the first day was very good,” said the Spaniard. “His adaptation is going very well, and he is playing well.”