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How Wilfried Gnonto’s ‘infectious personality’ and bargain fee have made him an instant hit at Leeds

The 19-year-old is becoming an increasingly important member of Jesse Marsch’s side after joining for just £3.8m last summer

Soccer Football – FA Cup – Leeds United v Cardiff City – Elland Road, Leeds, Britain – January 18, 2023 Leeds United’s Wilfried Gnonto celebrates scoring their first goal REUTERS/Molly Darlington.

By Ross Heppenstall

January 19, 2023 6:06 pm(Updated 6:08 pm)

Quite what Wilfried Gnonto is capable of achieving remains to be seen, but the growing incredulity surrounding his price tag says everything about the 19-year-old’s awesome potential.

Signed last summer from Swiss outfit FC Zurich for £3.8million, Leeds United‘s pint-sized Italian teenager is making that fee look ludicrously cheap.

His display in Wednesday’s FA Cup third-round replay against Cardiff once again had pundits and supporters purring, his two first-half goals, including a Paulo Di Canio-esque volleyed opener, inspiring a 5-2 victory.

Tony Dorigo, a key member of Leeds’ First Division title-winning side in 1992, now works as an expert summariser covering Jesse Marsch’s side.

Gnonto came to Dorigo’s attention when the former England defender was commentating on an Italy game in the Nations League against Germany last June.

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Dorigo told i: “The pressure that you’re under at that sort of age is intense but Gnonto, then 18, came on against Germany, beat his opponent and put in a cross from which Lorenzo Pellegrini scored.

“I was thinking ‘wow, who this is kid?’ but, lo and behold, he ends up joining Leeds United for a paltry £3.8million, which is one hell of a bargain.

“I thought ‘what’s the problem here?’ because that just doesn’t happen but there hasn’t been a problem at all.

“Gnonto has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water – he’s been a revelation and it’s quite amazing what he’s doing at such a young age.

“His clarity of pass and decision-making at such a young stage is mightily impressive – he always wants the ball and is a fantastic.

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