Star Leeds United man ridicules missed transfer claims as Arsenal, Man City, Juventus talk is put to bed
A star Leeds United man has moved to play down suggestions he regrets moving to the Whites amid claims he is already a target for some clubs higher up the food chain.
The Whites went into the international break buoyed by a thrilling 4-2 success at Wolves on Saturday. That lifted the club from 19th all the way up the dizzy heights of 14th in a tightly-congested table. That has lifted the mood around Elland Road and maintains the good start Javi Gracia has enjoyed since becoming manager.
However, with only four points separating the bottom nine there will be plenty more twists and turns to come.
If Leeds are to preserve their status, they will need to ensure their star names are at their very best in the run-in.
And one man who is key to that is Willy Gnonto.
The Italy forward moved to Elland Road in a bargain £5.2m deal from FC Zurich in the summer. And while he had to wait a while for his opportunity, Gnonto has quickly made himself a fans’ favourite at the club.
Indeed, that has led to Italy manager Roberto Mancini lamenting Serie A sides for failing to take a chance on Gnonto.
“Why did nobody sign [Wilfried] Gnonto?” he asked. “He could have gone to Fiorentina, Sampdoria… he could have played for any team, but he is a starter in the Premier League.
“There is an Italian player in the Dutch league. There are players out there. If you give them a chance, you can find some. But in this moment that’s the situation.”
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Gnonto insists he does not regret Leeds move
And with Gnonto scoring four times and assisting with three more for Leeds, the teenager has found himself linked with bigger and better moves.
Indeed, Gary Neville has suggested the winger looks very much like a future Manchester City star.
And this week both Arsenal and Juventus are being linked with summer raids for the player.
Reflecting on his move to Leeds, Gnonto insists he has no regrets.
“I didn’t even hope so much anymore, it all happened very quickly and I didn’t have time to realise. But it was a beautiful feeling,” he told Corriere della Sera. “The impact was good on a personal level, though the team is experiencing some ups and downs.”
Gnonto was made to wait for his chance under previous manager Jesse Marsch, but he took the snub well.
“The coach thought it was the best path for me, but I couldn’t wait to play with the first team to give my contribution: let’s say it took a while,” Gnonto explained.
Since signing for Leeds, questions have been asked about why Inter allowed him to leave back in 2020. However, amid speculation linking him with some big clubs, Gnonto is adamant he has no regrets.
“I will always be grateful to Inter, but I don’t see it as a missed opportunity. I had to make a choice, I went to Switzerland to play and I think I made the right one for me and my family.”
Star loving life at Elland Road
Gnonto’s deal at Elland Road ties him to the West Yorkshire side until summer 2027. Given his performances so far, it may not be long before he is offered a pay rise to reflect his progress.
Such has been his form that reports claim Leeds would demand a £35m (€40m) fee from any interested club, were the worst to happen and the team suffered relegation.
All the same, Gnonto is content at Leeds and has no regrets over his decision to sign for the Whites.
“It seems like a dream to me: I come from Baveno and I never expected one day to get to the Premier League or to receive compliments from such players [Paolo Di Canio].”
He added: “I live everything with great pride and I always try to commit myself to improve.”
READ MORE: Marsch slammed by former Leeds star for ‘messing with’ the team; player admits he ‘cried’ when leaving Elland Road