Just as deadline day was about to slam shut, Leeds United surprised many by signing winger, Wilfried Gnonto. Anyone familiar with the 18-year-old Italian however, will be aware of the brilliant business done by Jesse Marsch to bring him to England for as little as he did.
✍️ #LUFC is pleased to confirm the signing of Italian international Wilfried Gnonto from FC Zurich— Leeds United (@LUFC) September 1, 2022
Gnonto to Leeds is a DONE DEAL ✍️€4.5m + add ons and a percentage of future sale for the Italian talent.
via Di Marzio pic.twitter.com/ZcdYwGGJj6
— Italian Football TV (@IFTVofficial) September 2, 2022
Turning 19 in November, Gnonto is still extremely young, but his ability on the pitch is well beyond his years. The teenager’s spell-binding skill combined with superb soccer intelligence makes him a nightmare for defenders everywhere. His move to Leeds takes him away from FC Zürich, where he’s played for three seasons, and Swiss backlines will be thanking the Lord that the Italian has moved on to pastures new.
A winger who creates new angles like Ndombele with the acceleration and nippyness of Sterling.
— Jibber Jabber (@EthanFromOnline) September 2, 2022
In the 2021-22 Swiss Super League season, Gnonto recorded a goal contribution every 117 minutes with eight goals and three assists to his name. This earned him his first call-up to the Italian national team for this summer’s Nations League games as well as the Finalissima against Argentina at Wembley.
He made his official debut against Germany in June, providing a brilliant assist only five minutes after coming on as a sub. After driving straight at Thilo Kehrer, Gnonto earned just enough space on the wing, before fizzing the ball perfectly across the corridor of uncertainty, on a platter for Lorenzo Pellegrini to pass home.
Wilfried GnontoNew angle of his assist yesterday pic.twitter.com/OsZccvDswe
— Italy Propaganda ⚽️ (@ItalyProp) June 5, 2022
Earlier this year, Gnonto (18y & 222d) became the youngest scorer in the history of the Italy NT with his goal vs GermanyIt broke Bruno Nicole’s record from 1958 vs France - 18y & 259d.
— Sacha Pisani (@Sachk0) September 2, 2022
He’d need to wait only ten more days for his first goal, but the second date with the Germans proved bittersweet for Gnonto. A tap-in from close range earned him the title of youngest goal scorer for Italy, a record which had previously stood since 1958. The goal was of little consolation as Germany ran out 5-2 victors over the Italians but Gnonto had made his mark.
Just watched a gnonto compilation, and after the first 43 seconds, i can safely confirm that he is the best player in the world. Could challenge Haaland for the golden boot— lufcben (@_lufcben_) September 1, 2022
Born in Italy to Ivorian parents, education was always a priority for Wilfried. His genius on the field comes as no surprise as the Italian spent the majority of his youth studying or playing soccer.
In an interview with Goal.com, he said, "growing up, it was school, football, school and more football!"
Wilfried grew up playing in the Inter Milan academy, training with the first team on some occasions. Ever the overachiever on both fronts, Gnonto even switched from a traditional secondary school to a liceo scientifico, a more academically rigorous school with the goal of better preparedness for higher learning.
“I like studying,” Ngonto said in an interview with Ronache di Spogliatoio, “my favorite subject was Latin.”
Meeting the gaffer! pic.twitter.com/nWtWoi7W3k
Gnonto showed off his intellect in his first interaction with new boss Jesse Marsch, as the American was stunned that he speaks both English and German, earning a cheeky “sehr gut!” from Marsch.
Just watched all 4 of Gnonto's games for Italy...you are having a laugh if you think he is coming to play PL 2 Div 2 ...regardless of what Marsch said...he was up against players like Sule ,Rudiger, Kehrer, Raum etc and more than held his own..Kid is an unit #lufc— Archeet (@Archeet4) September 2, 2022
Versatility is a skill that Gnonto will make great use of in England. Able to play both out wide and centrally, he will fit into Marsch’s system well, especially in the absence of Rodrigo, whose injury will keep the Spaniard sidelined for at least a month
It is highly unlikely that Wilfried will start against Brentford on Saturday, but he may feature off the bench. If not he will be eyeing Leeds’ next home match against Nottingham Forest on September 12.
#️⃣2️⃣9️⃣ Welcome Willy! pic.twitter.com/4nLoXpbv16
Deadline day signings don’t get much better than Gnonto, and for just under $5 million according to Transfermarkt, the Italian may just be one of the bargain signings of the entire summer.