‘He’s not a Michael Owen’ - Everton transfer target slammed for ‘scandalous’ decision

Wilfreid Gnonto. Picture: Getty Images  Wilfreid Gnonto. Picture: Getty Images
Wilfreid Gnonto. Picture: Getty Images | AFP via Getty Images
Leeds United have insisted Willy Gnonto is not for sale.

Everton target Willy Gnonto has been criticised for refusing to play for Leeds United.

The forward remains on the Toffees' shopping list as they aim to further increase their attacking options. Having already signed Jack Harrison on a season-long loan, Sean Dyche's side are hopeful of another raid on Elland Road following their relegation from the Premier League.

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Gnonto joined Leeds last summer from Zurich and recorded two goals and four assists in 28 appearances during the 2022-23 campaign. But the 19-year-old is keen to continue playing in the top flight as he aims to win a spot in Italy's squad for the 2024 European Championships.

Gnonto has ruled himself out of action for Leeds' past two games - most recently a 1-0 loss to Birmingham City in the Championship. However, the Whites issued a statement insisting that the winger will not be sold during the current transfer window.

And speaking to the Yorkshire Evening Post, former Leeds midfielder David Prutton has hit out at Gnonto for the stance he's taken.

Prutton said: "It's scandalous that Gnonto refused to play. I understand how selfish footballers have to be and need to be to be successful. But you can't do that. I've heard good things about him as a person and a team-mate but this blows that out of the water.

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"As much as we understand what football is nowadays, the essence of it is still about being a team, a band of brothers or sisters looking after each other. That might all sound a bit twee but if you are looking over and can't rely on the geezer next to you then what's the point in having him in the team or the squad? He's very firmly burnt his bridges I think.

"There was a lot of head scratching about him at the end of last season when he wasn't playing, a clamour to get him in the team and to see what he can do. There was a genuine excitement when he was on the ball. But when we were enthusing about him I think he was benefiting from the comparison of being a poor team.

“The jury is out on whether he is a Premier League footballer, very much so. He might have looked pretty energetic and lively at times but he's no wonder kid. He doesn't come on and rip people to pieces. He's not a Michael Owen circa 1998 slicing through teams and smashing it in the top corner by any stretch of the imagination.

“There's definitely a very good footballer in there. But it's a unique relationship that fans have with players and if they love a player they will root for him until he does something like this which feels like a slap in the face. They've been chanting and roaring his name out to try and help out and he's not been part of that.

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“He might look at it and think this club had managers that didn't give me a chance in the Premier League so sod you lot, I'm off. But I am firmly foot in the camp of what the fans are thinking and all the text messages that I am getting are about this mob, this crew, this firm of players that have been absolutely bang average for Leeds United that want to go, don't let the door slam you on the way out.

“It's been ups and downs for Leeds fans over the last few seasons and it was a long time coming to get back to the Premier League. But if you are a player then don't take the mickey out of them, don't one day declare undying love and loyalty and then jump at the first hole in the boat which is exactly they've done.”

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