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Leeds eye Italy striker Gnonto to boost striker depth

18-year-old Zurich attacker Wilfried Gnonto has reportedly been identified as a cost-effective, long term solution to Leeds’ fragilities going forward.

Germany v Italy: UEFA Nations League - League Path Group 3
Gnonto has four caps for Italy’s senior team having previously featured at U16, U17, U18 and U19 levels.
Photo by Alex Gottschalk/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Leeds United have turned their attention to Zurich forward Wilfried Gnonto in order to bolster their attacking depth before the transfer window closes, according to Sky Sport’s Gianluca Di Marzio.

The 18-year-old is a youth product of Inter Milan and has registered 12 goals and nine assists in 69 appearances for the Swiss Super League champions. He has excelled at international level with Italy, rising the ranks to gain four caps with the senior side having previously featured at several youth levels.

The urgency for Leeds to bring in another striker increased last weekend when Patrick Bamford was replaced by Dan James after just 28 minutes in the 2-2 draw at Southampton. Jesse Marsch confirmed that the decision was a precautionary one and the 28-year-old is expected to return to training this week.

Joe Gelhardt was absent from the bench due to a dead leg, forcing Marsch to resort to last season’s regular stand-in James, but he too is set to be available for this weekend’s clash against Chelsea at Elland Road. Despite this, fans are eager for the club to avoid the struggles of the 2021/22 campaign and view Bamford’s early departure as a warning sign.

Highly rated Belgian forward Charles De Ketalaere was subject of major interest from the Whites for a large chunk of the current transfer window, but the 21-year-old instead opted to join AC Milan from Club Brugge, while another target in PSG’s 20-year-old Arnaud Kalimuendo joined fellow French outfit Rennes.

Finding themselves in the latter stages of the window, it is unlikely that Leeds will take any major risks, and links with the likes of Watford duo Ismaila Sarr and Joao Pedro appear to lack any substance, while rumours concerning Saints striker Che Adams and Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins remain largely unsubstantiated.

The Gnonto rumour is an encouraging one, though; unlike De Ketalaere, the Italian forward would not overly threaten Bamford’s place in the first team and subsequently his chances of featuring for England at the World Cup later this year, but his ceiling as a player could be very high and for as little as around £3.4m the Whites could acquire an excellent long term asset.

Brandon Lis’ scout report on the youngster is a good read, describing Gnonto as “one of the best young players currently in the Swiss Super League” and “a large part in FC Zurich locking up the [...] title”.

According to the report, the Italian international of Ivorian descent is used to playing in a front two for Zurich, where he often drifts wide and utilises his dribbling ability to take on full-backs and crossing ability to create chances for his teammates.

There would undoubtedly be a learning curve for a player who excels in wide areas, given Marsch’s implementation of a narrow system at Leeds, but Gnonto has still proven himself as a clinical poacher in the 18-yard-box, scoring 11 goals across all competitions last season as Zurich lifted their first league trophy in 13 years.

Leeds would reportedly face some stiff competition from the Netherlands to sign Gnonto, with PSV and Feyenoord both linked in the last few months.


What are your thoughts on rumours linking Leeds with Gnonto? Would you rather the Whites signed him over more established options? Let us know by commenting below or on Twitter, and vote in the poll below (viewable in browser only).

Poll

Which of the following realistic transfer targets would you like Leeds to sign this summer?

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    Wilfried Gnonto
    (24 votes)
  • 6%
    Che Adams
    (3 votes)
  • 44%
    Ollie Watkins
    (22 votes)
49 votes total Vote Now
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