Wilfried Gnonto only joined Leeds from Swiss outfit FC Zurich in the summer of 2022, but his future has been uncertain since the Whites were relegated from the Premier League at the end of last season.
Everton, who edged out Leeds in the fight for survival, made three bids to sign him, the last of which was worth £25.7m, but Daniel Farke’s side held firm in their £30m valuation and the Toffees refused to meet it. While all of this was going on, Gnonto submitted a transfer request and withdrew himself from contention, but after he was denied a move, he rebuilt the bridge by apologising to Farke.
The Italian has had to be content with a bit-part role at Elland Road this season, starting only a quarter of Leeds’ 28 Championship games up to this point. Heading into the New Year, then, there seemed to be a strong chance that he would push for a move again.
Leeds, for their part, have been hopeful of tying him down to a new contract if the player is receptive, and there’s now been some positive movement on that front.
Leeds close to Gnonto breakthrough
According to The Athletic’s Phil Hay, Gnonto could now sign a new deal at Elland Road. Leeds are “looking to finalise” an agreement with the forward after some productive negotiations, even though his previous contract still has three and a half years to run.
In an attached story for The Athletic, Hay adds that a deal is close, and so one of the big success stories of the January window could be an in-house breakthrough rather than an external transfer.
Leeds right to show patience with Golden Boy nominee Gnonto
This should be seen as a big boost for Leeds, because Gnonto remains a top long-term prospect. Indeed, we shouldn’t forget, in the midst of the recent drama, that he’s only 20 years old. Gnonto showed flashed of huge promise during his first season at Elland Road, scoring four goals and providing four assists. Most notably, he opened the scoring in a 2-2 draw at Manchester United within the first minute, becoming the youngest overseas player to score a Premier League goal at Old Trafford.
While his tally of one goal and one assist looks underwhelming, it’s hard to be too critical of him given the distractions he’s faced as a young player, his shortage of gametime and the consequent lack of rhythm.
Gnonto has also underlined his potential at the international level by not only scoring five in five for Italy’s under-21s, but also amassing 13 caps for the senior side and becoming their youngest-ever goalscorer in a defeat to Germany in 2022.
His exploits that year, where he also scored 10 goals and provided five assists in 36 games for Zurich, earned him a place in the final 20 for the Golden Boy award, given to the best under-21 in top-flight European football. That shortlist also featured the likes of Jude Bellingham, Jamal Musiala and Pedri.
Gnonto, then, could still prove to be a huge bargain at just £3.8m as he prepares to commit his long-term future to Leeds.