Leeds United have been struggling with injuries to key players over the last 18 months, with the most notable problems coming for star striker Patrick Bamford.
The 29-year-old sustained three long-term injuries last season and has been in and out of the team already with issues this term, something that will be a massive concern for manager Jesse Marsch as he strives for a more comfortable finish in the top flight following a disappointing 17th place finish in 2021/22.
Indeed, Bamford is capable of being hugely influential on the pitch when he is fit to play, having scored 45 goals and delivered 17 assists for Leeds – averaging a goal contribution every 145 minutes – proving that then when the team are without him they are missing out on a reliable and consistent attacking threat.
However, Marsch could have an ace to play if Bamford continues to struggle with fitness issues, as Wilfried Gnonto was signed by the club on deadline day – and the 18-year-old who was hailed a “surprise” by Victor Orta could be the perfect heir to succeed the striker.
The Italian wonderkid became the youngest player ever to score for his country in the same month he made his international debut and has had no trouble breaking into the competitive senior national team – who are currently the European Champions after beating England at Wembley last summer.
Gnonto has already tallied up 27 club goals and 17 assists over his career so far – with a goal contribution every 119 minutes – but is yet to make an appearance in the Leeds senior team, although the Elland Road faithful were given a glimpse of their shiny new signing against England last night in the UEFA Nations League.
The forward who was hailed an “exciting talent” by journalist Matt Barlow, was brought on in the 63rd minute by Roberto Mancini and made an impression in the little time he had on the pitch, completing six out of his seven passes and winning 50% of his duels in the victory for the Azzurri.
With that being said, there is no doubt that Marsch will want to ease the youngster into the team in order to develop him into the next Leeds prodigy and, if successful, Gnonto could become a real attacking threat to challenge Bamford for his spot in the team in years to come.