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.
Leeds have not submitted any bid for Ismaila Sarr and Juan Mata as things stand - while they are following Willy Gnonto as potential future talent since long time. ⚪️ #LUFC— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) August 15, 2022
Leeds will complete new signings only if they find top opportunities.
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.
#Feyenoord close to what would be 1 of the biggest steals of the summer so far, Wilfried #Gnonto (18).— Serbian Football Scout (@SerbFootyScout) June 27, 2022
The international of descent has apparently agreed terms with the club.
An unorthodox forward, at 170 cm, but blessed with incredible dribbling ability & physicals. pic.twitter.com/ogbldShUTC
Leeds would reportedly face some stiff competition from the Netherlands to sign Gnonto, with PSV and Feyenoord both linked in the last few months.
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