Leeds United will not sanction the exit of teenager Willy Gnonto in January after a summer of uncertainty surrounding his future, according to journalist Ben Jacobs.
The 19-year-old was the subject of much interest during the recent transfer window, with Premier League outfit Everton reportedly coming closest to securing his signature. With Leeds desperate to keep hold of the Italian international, the player reportedly went on strike in order to force through a move, but eventually relented and was reintegrated back into the playing squad.
The Yorkshire giants are looking to bounce back following their relegation from the top tier last season and saw a number of top stars depart during the summer, including Tyler Adams on a permanent deal to Bournemouth, with Luis Sinisterra joining the same team on loan and Jack Harrison heading to Everton – also on a temporary basis.
Gnonto was a player in which Leeds dug their heels in and reaped the rewards when he scored his first goal of the season in the 4-3 win over Ipswich Town in August. It was a result which proved to be a catalyst, with the Whites undefeated in their last five league games, whilst keeping four successive clean sheets.
It’s no coincidence that their upturn in form has coincided with the end of the transfer window. Daniel Farke has now been able to move forward in the knowledge that his squad are not facing distractions from interested clubs and Ben Jacobs believes that will continue into January. Addressing the Gnonto scenario in particular, the journalist told GIVEMESPORT that the attacker is now likely to remain at Elland Road until at least the end of the season;
“What we’ll have to do is wait and see whether, at the end of the season, there’s a change in Leeds’ position. And that will obviously be circumstantial, so it’s far too early to say because next summer, if Leeds are back in the Premier League, then Wilfried Gnonto may just want to stay.
“The other thing in all of this is obviously whether, at any point going forwards, improved terms that are offered to Gnonto. Sometimes when a player stays at a club, but was about to leave, or wanted to leave anyway, you sort of almost get a peacemaker contract offered. We saw it with Moises Caicedo, even though he eventually left, and that contract really doesn’t mean much.
“Because from the players side, they would obviously try and put a clause in there that still allows them to leave in some capacity. For example, if Leeds didn’t get back up to the Premier League, but if everything goes according to plan, that kind of thing can obviously keep the player happy and on better terms as well.
“So my sense of the situation is that it’s blown over and that Gnonto respects Leeds’ position and that nothing will be sanctioned mid-season. And then obviously, by the summer, it will all simply depend on whether Leeds go up of stay in the Championship.
“If they stay in the Championship, I think they’ll let Gnonto leave. But if they go back up into the Premier League, he may not want to leave and like I said before, if Everton is still the primary suitor, we also have to understand where they are to.”
Leeds travel to out-of-form Southampton on Saturday and will be hoping that Gnonto has recovered from the injury which ruled him out of last weekend’s win against Watford.
Leeds’ stance on this matter is understandable as they look to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking. Talks between the club and the player took place throughout the summer and it is likely that he was told that he would not be allowed to leave before or during the season. However, there may be a gentleman’s agreement that would allow him to depart should they fail to achieve promotion.
Gnonto is a player who will not want to spend too long playing in the second tier and one that has international pedigree at the highest level. Obviously things can change quickly, but maintaining their current form will do their prospects in keeping the winger no harm whatsoever.