That’s according to reports from Italy (via Sport Witness) claiming that, after seeing an opening offer of €5m (£4.2m) knocked back by FC Zurich for the centre-forward, Victor Orta is now preparing a second bid for the 18-year-old, one which is believed to be much closer to the Swiss champions’ €8m (£6.7m) valuation of the striker.
Jesse Marsch recently confirmed the Whites’ interest in the Italy international, with the 48-year-old stating in his pre-Chelsea press conference last week: “We know him. I think we think very highly of him. He’s a young talented player. I think we’re very active in pursuing things and we have some strategies. Let’s see how they play out.
“We still have time and I think that there will be movement with us and with other teams. I think some dominoes will start to fall and then we have to be prepared to act on those situations. It’s a long time since we’ve made our last transfer but I can tell you that the conversations and the work behind the scenes has been very, very active.”
Considering just how short of depth Marsch currently is up top – with the increasingly injury-prone Patrick Bamford being the Whites’ only senior option at centre-forward – it is easy to see why Orta is targeting the signing of a new striker ahead of the closure of the summer transfer window next week.
Considering just how exciting a talent Gnonto very much appears to be, it is not hard to understand why the 18-year-old seems to be one of the Leeds director of football’s primary targets for that position.
Indeed, over his 33 Super League appearances – only nine of which came as starts – in 2021/22, the £9m-rated forward was in remarkable form. He bagged eight goals, registered three assists and created four big chances for his team-mates, along with taking 1.4 shots, making 0.8 key passes and completing 0.9 dribbles per game.
However, it has not only been at club level that the 18-year-old has impressed, as he has also caught the eye over the various Italian youth age groups, finding the net 11 times in 31 outings for the U16s, U17s, U18s and U19s.
This form quite clearly convinced Roberto Mancini that the teenager has what it takes to make it in senior international football, with the 57-year-old calling up Gnonto for the Azzurri’s UEFA Nations League fixtures this summer – over which the teenager became Italy’s youngest-ever goalscorer with his strike against Germany, taking the 64-year-old record away from the late Bruno Nicole.
Furthermore, the former Manchester City manager quite clearly believes that the striker possesses a significant amount of potential for future development.
He stated of Gnonto in comments cited by Leeds Live: “He is a boy, he is 18 years old and he should not be put under too much pressure. He has to grow quietly. For his age, he knows how to play football like few other players and is very fast. If he grows calmly, without too much pressure on him, he can show his important qualities and he is an intelligent boy, he can grow.”
It seems evident just how much hope there is that the FC Zurich starlet could well develop into one of Europe’s most exciting attacking talents, so should Orta manage to get a £6.7m deal over the line for the 18-year-old in the coming days, it would undoubtedly be a signing that both Marsch and the Elland Road faithful would love.