A few days ago, Italian CT Roberto Mancini expressed his frustration after no Italian sides took a gamble on the signing of Wilfried Gnonto in the summer transfer window. 



The 19-year-old was available for what is now considered to be a bargain price of less than €5m from Swiss outfit Zurich, who themselves had picked up the fledgling Azzurro on a free from Inter’s youth academy in 2020. 

Instead of making a return to his native land, Gnonto decided in favour of a switch to the Premier League, where he has since drawn widespread praise for his influential performances in the white of Leeds United. 

So impressive have his performances been that Gnonto has been attracting interest from some of the biggest clubs in England in recent weeks, with Manchester City and league leaders Arsenal reported to be interested in striking a deal with Leeds in the summer transfer window. 

Speaking prior to Italy’s recent 2-1 loss to England in the opening game of the Euro 2024 qualifiers, Mancini expressed his frustration that no sides in Italy were particularly keen on signing Gnonto in the summer of 2022. 

His comments: “Why didn’t anyone take him in Italy? He could have played for Sampdoria or Fiorentina.”

Gnonto is one of the most recent examples of young Italian talents who aren’t deemed ready enough to make an impact for Italian clubs in Serie A. 

Tuttomercato lists Gnonto alongside Nicolo Zaniolo as players who have had to make a move abroad in recent seasons in order to secure regular playing time at club level. 

Mancini is keen to nurture young Italian players, even if they aren’t being given an opportunity to play in Italy, as has been proven with the recent inclusion of 17-year-old Simone Pafundi in the Azzurri squad, despite only having three Serie A appearances with Udinese to his name so far. 

As for Gnonto, however, the opportunity to see him play in Serie A may well have passed for now and it will likely take several years before he makes his first start in Italy.

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