If Leeds United manage to stay up this season, what Willy Gnonto did in the middle part of the season will unquestionably be looked back upon as a key reason why the Whites kept their heads above water.
The Italy international had to wait until the end of October for his Premier League debut, coming on for the latter stages of the dramatic win at Liverpool. And he played a key role in the decisive goal, finding Patrick Bamford in the box before Crysencio Summerville poked the winner home.
He was, once again, integral in the comeback against Bournemouth. And he has since scored in the draws with West Ham and Manchester United.
Gnonto may benefit from dropping out of Leeds starting lineup
Towards the end of Jesse Marsch’s tenure, the main tactic appeared to simply be get the ball to Gnonto and hope he could do something.
Sometimes, it would pay off. And there is absolutely no question that he is one of the most ‘outstanding‘ talents in the Premier League, let alone the Leeds squad.
However, Gnonto has found life a little trickier in more recent times.
The likes of Nottingham Forest, Everton Southampton and Fulham have all found ways to contain the 19-year-old. The decision to bring Serge Aurier on at the City Ground probably proved to be the final nail in the coffin for Marsch’s future as Gnonto was our last hope that day.
Alan Shearer suggested that it was not Gnonto’s night when he came off against Fulham in the FA Cup on Tuesday. And with that, Javi Gracia possibly has a bit of a dilemma heading into the clash with Chelsea.
Time for Gracia to take a gamble?
Gracia has made the brave call to take Gnonto off shortly after the hour-mark in both of his games in charge. And Leeds did not struggle to create chances after he came off.
Summerville has been bright at times. And Jack Harrison looks much better back out on the wing. So there is an argument that it may actually benefit Gnonto to start Saturday’s game on the bench.
Ultimately, it is a massive gamble. Gnonto has been outstanding since his arrival. But it has almost been unfair how much we have relied on him in recent weeks. And that is catching up with the forward now.
Hopefully, if Gnonto does start against Chelsea, this article will be made to look completely silly. But it does feel like a sensible move at this point to possibly consider taking Gnonto out of the starting lineup for the time-being while he is finding things a little tougher.