Wilfried Gnonto fast-track could see Joe Gelhardt's Leeds United future clouded
Leeds United have built a fantastic young squad over the summer under the stewardship of Jesse Marsch and fans are delighted at what’s happening at the club.
There were obvious concerns when both Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips left Elland Road for pastures new, so soon after the club escaped the clutches of relegation with a huge result on the final day of last season.
One of the players to really come to light during that battle was young striker Joe Gelhardt, who stepped up in the absence of Patrick Bamford to lead the attack and help keep the club in the Premier League.
There were some concerns during the summer transfer window about Gelhardt’s progression at the club when there was such a clear pursuit for a striker going on, with young Charles De Ketelaere and Arnaud Kalimuendo seemingly the number one target.
But when late deals for Cody Gakpo and Bamba Dieng collapsed, there was some calm because it meant that Gelhardt would get an opportunity. Then in walked Wilfried Gnonto.
The Italian international, who remains just 18 years old, made history during the international break becoming the youngest attacker to have three starts for the national team.
Those performances during the break impressed Marsch, and he admitted that he is now reconsidering his initial plan for Gnonto to develop in the reserves this season and is instead now seen as a fully fledged first-team player.
“He will be in the squad this weekend and we think he can play a big role for us now,” he said in his press conference on 30 September, via Leeds-Live.
“I guess you can say I would revise my statement. That statement had more to do, I think with the fact that we had targeted him and we identified him, but more for future windows and not exactly this one, but the fact that we’re able to start the process early I think is really advantageous for everyone.”
But what does that mean for Gelhardt?
So far this season he has made one Premier League start, where has lasted 59 minutes in the defeat to Brentford. But prior to that he suffered the humiliation of being substituted on against Everton and then being substituted off in the same game with the team chasing a goal.
Fans will obviously want to see Gelhardt succeed, but they’ll also want Gnonto to shine and reach the potential that everyone is so sure he has.
But in reality, only one will make it at Elland Road. They both need the minutes to develop and improve, and that means taking minutes away from one to give to the other.
Minutes will already be limited because of Patrick Bamford and Rodrigo’s roles at the club, but now they’re likely to stall each other too.
Marsch will have to make a decision on which one earns more time in his team, and they’ll be competing in training, but at some point he’ll have to pick one or the other.
In other Leeds news, fans have been shafted by this major Premier League announcement on Friday