Leeds United star Wilfried Gnonto 'doesn't deserve' to play for Italy
Wilfried Gnonto has been criticised by Italian journalist Umberto Chiariello who has claimed that the Leeds United winger doesn’t deserve to play for the Italy national side.
The 19-year-old made a short cameo from the bench for his country’s 1-1 draw with North Macedonia on Saturday (9 September), becoming the first player since the likes of Allesandro Del Piero and his Juventus teammates to represent Italy while playing in the second tier.
But in a long rant about the general state of Italian football, Chiariello took aim at Gnonto in particular for not being at the standard required by the national side should they hope to retain their title as European champions next summer.
Speaking on Radio Napoli Centrale, as quoted by Tutto Napoli (11 September) he said: “I criticized the call-up of players like Nicolò Zaniolo and Wilfried Gnonto, who in my opinion do not deserve a blue shirt.
“Today, the Italian national team is a mosaic team, where most players do not come from top-noting teams. At Napoli, there are four players, at Sassuolo one, at Lazio two, at Inter one and at Bologna one.”
While Gnonto is currently a Championship player, he had plenty of top-flight interest in him this summer and had he had his way would have made the switch to either the Premier League with Everton or Freiburg in the Bundesliga.
Italy do look like a much weaker side than the one that competed in Euro 2020, but every national side goes through similar periods of peaks and troughs, especially when they are an ageing outfit like the team at Luciano Spalletti’s disposal.
Gnonto is only 19 years old and has been part of the senior international set-up long before his Leeds United days as one of his country’s brightest prospects and his desire to continue to feature for Italy was part of the reason he was so keen to move away from Elland Road this summer.
Mounting pressure could have two very different effects on Daniel Farke’s side this season, either it will see the winger get his head down to keep his place in the national side, or it could see him push for another exit in January to return to the top-flight.
Either way, you’d have to hope that he will settle back into life in the Championship and be able to find some consistency at Elland Road, at least until the January window rolls back around.
In other Leeds United news, the Whites were very aggressive in their transfer approach for Luke Thomas this summer