By Anthony Onifade

21st Apr, 2023 | 1:10pm

Leeds United: Phil Hay stunned by Javi Gracia decision on Willy Gnonto at Elland Road

Phil Hay has been left stunned at how little Javi Gracia has utilised Wilfried Gnonto in recent weeks as he is the “wildcard” in the Leeds United team.

The 19-year-old has swiftly risen to prominence among the Elland Road support since his summer move from FC Zurich, going on to register two goals and three assists from 18 Premier League games.

However, the Italian international has only started once in Leeds United’s last seven Premier League encounters when included in the matchday squad and Hay, speaking on The Phil Hay Show [20 April, 36m:01sec] expressed his shock at Gracia’s decision.

He said: “I’m surprised at how little Gnonto has been used. I know he’s come back from injury and maybe that is what it is. But it feels like once Gnonto is good to go and ready to play, surely he has to start. He’s probably as close to that wildcard, off-the-cuff bit of brilliance you had in Raphinha as anything else in the Leeds squad.”


The 19-year-old has enjoyed a stellar first season in England, contributing four goals and three assists in 21 appearances in all competitions but more crucially possesses amazing trickery, 1v1 dribbling, pace and technical skill to unlock even the best defence in the Premier League.

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Not only is Gracia hurting the Whites’ chances of survival but also hurting the chances of Leeds United keeping the Italian winger for the long haul with the teenager already attracting interest from his homeland having just been a Leeds first-teamer for all of six months.

And the player may not even have an Elland Road future if he feels he isn’t valued by the club – and that is dangerous territory losing a player of his class and potential so soon.

Gnonto is a calibre of player who should not be rotting away on the bench in the big games. At such a crucial stage in the season for Leeds United as they battle against relegation, Gracia has got to utilise his best players and Gnonto is amongst that prestigious list at Elland Road.

In other Leeds United news, here’s what our exclusive pundit had to say on the Jean-Kevin Augustin saga at Elland Road.