Liverpool and England legend Michael Owen talked up a Leeds attacker as ‘one of the signings of the season’ after his display at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening.
Managerless Leeds shocked Manchester United by taking a 2-0 lead after strikes early in both halves from Willy Gnonto and a Raphael Varane own goal, only for Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho to eventually earn the home side a point.
The Elland Road outfit went into the game with Under-21s boss Michael Skubala at the helm, aided by Chris Armas and Paco Gallardo.
Victor Orta and Angus Kinnear were also in the stands as their hunt for Jesse Marsch’s replacement continues.
Leeds got off to the perfect start when Gnonto lashed an effort past David de Gea inside the first minute. And they got off to a fast start again in the second period when Varane deflected Crysencio Summerville’s cross into his own net.
However, the Red Devils responded through Rashford’s header and Sancho’s curling effort to earn a share of the spoils.
And while Gnonto’s goal became the second quickest ever at Old Trafford, he did create one record.
At the age of 19 years and 95 days, the Italy international became the youngest overseas player to score a Premier League goal against Man United at Old Trafford.
And speaking after the game, Owen was full of praise for Gnonto, who has been a shining light for Leeds in a difficult campaign so far.
In his post-match analysis, Owen gave his verdict on the winger. He said: “One of the signings of the season, one of the performers of the season.
“Very direct, quick, very good finish. That ball into Bamford, getting it into a striker’s feet, that is when it is dangerous. Brilliant finish.”
High praise indeed from a player who had similar assets to Gnonto during the early years of his own career.
Gnonto arguably the bargain of the season
But in terms of how Gnonto has impacted Leeds’ season, it’s hard to argue against Owen’s valuation of the player.
The 19-year-old cost a frankly ridiculous £5million when he was signed from FC Zurich last September.
Although he did not start for the first couple of months of the campaign, Gnonto hit the headlines for his display off the bench in the 2-1 victory at Liverpool in late October.
And since then, he has not locked back. Indeed, in 10 Premier League appearances, Gnonto has scored twice and added an assist.
While those stats do not look particularly great, it’s his impact on the Leeds team that has really stood out.
The Italian, who has eight caps to his name, is a constant threat with his pace, power and trickery.
If he carries on at his current rate then Leeds are likely to have a lucrative asset on their hands.
Leeds are back in action on Sunday when take on Manchester United again, this time at Elland Road, and could also have a new manager at the helm by then.