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Leeds strike a £3.8m deal for Wilfried Gnonto as Italy’s highly regarded attacker puts pen to paper on a five-year contract with Elland Road – after loaning Dan James to Premier League rivals Fulham
- The Italian international was allowed to leave after the start of the last contract year
- Zurich FC sold the attacker to Leeds for £3.8 million and has a 15 percent sales fee
- Willy Gnonto arrives at the club as Dan James is allowed to leave for Fulham
Leeds have finalized the signing of Italian international Wilfried Gnonto in a £3.8 million deal from FC Zurich.
18-year-old Gnonto has signed a five-year deal with the club, as Leeds saw their business undergo a transformation in a hectic day of transfer transactions in the European football landscape.
The young Italian of the Swiss team has entered the final year of his contract in Zurich, hence the club’s option to sign the player for a relatively low fee.
Italy international Wilfried Gnonto has joined Leeds in a £3.8m deal from FC Zurich
FC Zurich had initially demanded £17 million for the player, but when Leeds returned with little time on the market, the Swiss outfit relented.
An exciting prospect, Gnonto has already announced himself on the international stage with some notable performances for Italy earlier in the summer.
A product of the Inter Milan academy, Gnonto joined FC Zurich in 2020 and helped them to their first league title in 13 years last season with 10 goals and five assists.
The 18-year-old made his debut for Italy earlier this year as a substitute and assisted in a 1-1 draw at home to Germany in the Nations League.
Gnonto is considered one of the most exciting young prospects in Europe after impressive shows in Switzerland
Bamba Dieng’s move to Leeds fell through and he failed a medical in Nice on Thursday
In June, he scored his first international goal in a 5-2 defeat in Germany, making him the youngest goalscorer for Italy, aged 18 years and 222 days, breaking Bruno Nicolè’s previous record since 1958.
Leeds had previously designated the Italian as a future in the window, so when it became clear that deals for other more established targets such as Joel Piroe, from Swansea and Ben Brereton Diaz, from Blackburn, were not feasible, they could head back to the table for Gnonto.
After seeing Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips leave for Barcelona and Manchester City respectively earlier in the summer, Leeds was aware that a squad that survived last season only on the skin of its teeth needed reinforcements.
Gnonto’s move makes him the club’s ninth summer signing alongside Brenden Aaronson, Tyler Adams, Darko Gyabi, Rasmus Kristensen and Sonny Perkins.
Leeds had inquired about Ben Brereton Diaz, but a deal for the Blackburn star was not viable
Jesse Marsch was keen for the club to add reinforcements to this window in forward areas
With Patrick Bamford still suffering from several injury issues, Gnonto could play an important role for the Whites for the remainder of the season.
The West Yorkshire club had a chaotic day when they appeared to have secured a deal for Bamba Dieng, only for the Marseille striker to change his mind as he sat at the airport waiting for a private jet.
Despite the problems, Leeds’ hierarchy worked tirelessly to land a deal for Gnonto and provide Marsch with the striker his side desperately needed.
Gnonto joins Leeds at a good time for the club. Marsch has started the Premier League in excellent form, taking eight points from their first five games, including wins against Wolves and Chelsea.