Leeds United are stepping up their interest in a deal to bring Wilfried Gnonto to Elland Road this summer.
That’s according to a report by Italian publication Corriere dello Sport (via Sport Witness), who claim that, following a number of reports suggesting that Victor Orta had entered into talks with FC Zurich regarding a €5m (£4.2m) deal for the centre-forward, the Spanish director of football has now intensified his efforts to land the Italy international – submitting an official €5m offer.
The report goes on to state that, while the Swiss side are believed to be holding out for a figure in the region of €8m (£6.7m) in order to part with the 18-year-old this summer, they will nevertheless consider the Whites’ current bid for the striker – with a decision expected to be reached by Wednesday.
Considering the sheer amount of potential Gnonto quite clearly possesses, coupled with the fact that Orta is known to be targeting the addition of a new centre-forward prior to the closure of the summer transfer window, it is easy to see why the Whites’ director of football would be interested in a deal to bring the teenager to Elland Road in the coming weeks.
Indeed, over his 33 Super League appearances – only nine of which came as starts – in 2021/22, the £9m-rated forward returned some extremely eye-catching numbers, bagging eight goals, providing three assists and creating four big chances for his teammates, as well as taking an average of 1.4 shots, making 0.8 key passes and completing 0.9 dribbles per game.
These returns saw Roberto Mancini – who labelled Gnonto both “very quick” and claimed he “can do anything” – call the 18-year-old to his Italy squad for the Azzurri’s Nations League fixtures against Germany, Hungary and England this summer, with the striker scoring one goal and registering one assist over four outings for his country.
In terms of his style of play, it is not hard to tell from his average of shots, key passes and completed dribbles why Gnonto claims Raheem Sterling is the player he moulds himself upon – with the England international also boasting impressive numbers in all three metrics over his 30 league fixtures last time out, taking an average of 1.9 shots, making 1.4 key passes and completing 1.8 dribbles per game.
These traits are all on show in the below clip, in which Gnonto – who can operate on either wing, as a support striker or as an out-and-out centre-forward – plays a neat one-two with a teammate, before driving at the defence in Sterling-esque fashion, fainting a shot and unleashing a thunderous drive beyond the opposition goalkeeper in Italy U19s’ 3-1 victory over Slovenia U19s last year.
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As such, should the teenager continue his quite astonishing rate of development following a potential switch to Leeds this summer, Orta could well have unearthed the next Sterling in the Italian sensation – something that is sure to be an incredibly exciting prospect for both the Elland Road faithful and Jesse Marsch alike.