FC Zurich initially wanted £14 million for Wilfried Gnonto last summer with Premier League outfit Leeds United managing to secure a bargain deal for the Italy international.
Roberto Mancini, last week, said what many back home were already thinking. Just how on earth did Leeds manage to secure the services of one of Europe’s most exciting young attackers, for just £4 million no less, while facing so little competition?
“Why hasn’t anyone signed Gnonto in Italy?” asked the baffled Azzurri boss. “He could play for Sampdoria or Fiorentina. Nobody took him, but he plays as a regular in the Premier League.”
Gnonto is a ‘regular’ in the Italy squad these days too, Mancini’s brightest spark during Thursday’s 2-1 home defeat to England. The youngest goalscorer in Azzurri history has already reached double figures for caps.
This, coupled with his exhilarating performances at Elland Road, means you could probably slap a zero on Gnonto’s £4 million price-tag these days, a player who doesn’t even turn 19 until November arguably the best pound-for-pound signing made by any Premier League club during the summer of 2022.
Leeds United paid just £4m for Italy star Wilfried Gnonto
Gnonto scored 10 times for FC Zurich in 2021/22. According to Calciomercato, the Swiss Super League outfit initially asked for £14 million.
While (deep breath) Fiorentina, Sassuolo, Torino, PSV Eindhoven, Anderlecht, Hoffenheim and Jose Mourinho’s Roma had all shown an interest, no one was willing to invest an eight-figure sum in a then-18-year-old with only two seasons of first-team football under his belt.
By deadline day, however, Zurich’s asking price had dropped considerably. And Leeds’ patience certainly paid off. Even if a deal that cost them just £4 million up front could still double in size with add-ons included.
“The transfer took place under the conditions we had imagined,” argues FC Zurich president Ancillo Canepa.
“We negotiated well. We didn’t let ourselves be disturbed, even if the transfer was only registered five minutes before the end of the window.”
“Everything in the contract remains confidential. But yes, there is a very good chance that the transfer fee will eventually exceed ten million.”
“He can still improve and he’s young,” Mancini adds. “He has quality. I hope other young people can follow his example, and go abroad to play. If they are good, then they play”.