By Sam Stone

7th Jan, 2023 | 7:10am

Willy Gnonto proves Jesse Marsch wrong at Leeds United, questions need to be asked of manager

Willy Gnonto has exploded onto the scene for Leeds United – and his performances of late have made Jesse Marsch’s comments on the youngster look fairly out of touch.

Before he had even put pen to paper at Elland Road, the American had already earmarked the diminutive attacker as a long-term project.

“I didn’t even know that that’s [Gnonto links] out there, but we know who he is. With him, it’d be more of a long-term project,” said the American back in the summer of 2022 (19 August, Yorkshire Evening Post).

Leeds Live had even suggested (6 December) the head coach had written him off and that he wasn’t ready for Premier League football.

However, as Gnonto fired the Whites in front with a fierce strike against West Ham at Elland Road, the Leeds boss wouldn’t have cared if he had been proved wrong. The young Italian has been thrown into the first team picture and has thrived.

Although, should some questions be asked of Marsch after he was prepared to leave the Italian wonderkid on the back burner as a longer-term asset? The Athletic’s James Horncastle suggested (via Twitter, 4 January) that it was laughable for Gnonto to be viewed as one for the development side after impressing on the international stage for Italy.

The 19-year-old scored goals on the continent and has represented one of the biggest footballing nations on the planet – it’s abundantly clear to most that he is more than ready to be a consistent start for Leeds, and probably should have been given a starting berth as soon as he made the move to the Premier League.

It’s good to see Marsch trusts the youngster now, but questions surely have to be asked after he was initially planning to give him the odd sporadic taste of Premier League football.

In other Leeds United news, Victor Orta could make moves to sign this MLS defender in either the summer or January and it won’t break the bank.