By Villa News Speaking to Dan Bardell

18th Oct, 2023 | 4:55pm

Aston Villa: Dan Bardell moots 'bad' Nicolo Zaniolo international development

We’re delighted to welcome Sky Sports journalist Dan Bardell as our exclusive Aston Villa columnist as each week he’ll be giving his views on the biggest talking points at the club…

The “worst” outcome of Nicolo Zaniolo’s ongoing betting controversy will be the impact on his Aston Villa performances, according to Dan Bardell.

As reported by Sky Sports Italia (16 October) Zaniolo is set to seek a full acquittal for gambling charges from the Italian football federation after claiming he’d never bet on football, with the charges forcing him to leave the Italy camp early. Zaniolo is one of a number of Italian players, including Newcastle’s Sandro Tonali, accused of such breaches, but the Aston Villa man has denied the claims.

For Aston Villa, the former Roma attacker has had some bright moments but is yet to truly announce himself as a staple of Unai Emery’s side.

Bardell praised Zaniolo for being in the brink of becoming a “good player” for the Villans but feared the mental impact these accusations may have on his performances for his new club.

Speaking exclusively to Villa News, Bardell said: “It’s a bad situation. We’ve seen other footballers involved in betting scandals like Ivan Toney. It’s not ideal for him at all, but I guess at the moment Villa are waiting to find out more information.

“Hopefully it’s just one of those things that isn’t true. He needs to get back and concentrate on his football as he’s a player I really like. There’s a very good player in there that Emery may be able to get a tune out of. I’m hoping that Villa can get him back and he can get back to training and be involved at the weekend [versus West Ham].

“The worst thing that can happen to a footballer when stuff like this goes on is that it stops them doing what they love doing. The mental toll that that takes too is proven at the moment. He’s getting close to being a good player. Once he gets a goal or an assist, he will really lift off for the football club.

“It would be a shame to see all that fade away and to go back to square one with him. I felt before the last international break that he was just getting there.”

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