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Jesse Marsch offers rationale for Leeds United’s rushed deadline day agreement

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Image for Jesse Marsch offers rationale for Leeds United’s rushed deadline day agreement

Jesse Marsch concluded a deal for the elusive striker before the transfer deadline last week, as Italian international Wilfried Gnonto completed a move to Leeds United at the 11th hour.

Leeds had been in search of a forward for much of summer, Charles De Ketelaere and Cody Gakpo have been named among other targets per Phil Hay and David Ornstein of The Athletic.

Dan James left the club on deadline day in a move to Fulham on loan. His departure coinciding with Gnonto’s arrival appears to be a re-tooling of Leeds’ attack. A winger out, and a more natural central forward in. He was Leeds’ ninth and final signing of the summer window.

Why Gnonto in the end? Leeds also pushed for a late move for Blackburn Rovers’ Ben Brereton-Diaz per Phil Hay, but were put off by his valuation.

Gnonto, 18, cost a reported £3.8million per The Mail. Leeds made the move on a player they had been tracking for a while, but after Dan James left, and a deadline day move for Bamba Dieng of Marseille failed to materialise, they pushed through the transfer of Gnonto earlier than planned. Marsch said:

“It was a very crazy last 48 hours and certain things got pulled out from under us. We’d been following Gnonto’s progress for some time.”

LeedsAllOver sources believe that the plan had been to sign the player in January or later, and this was confirmed by Marsch, he added:

“We thought we’d leave him at Zurich for a window or two – but we felt we had to accelerate that decision.”

A lot of pressure is now on the Italian, who Marsch said wasn’t ready and that he would need time as a longer-term option. This was said a few weeks ago when his name came up in a press conference, he said: “He’s not Premier League ready,” per Phil Hay.

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It all feels a bit rushed and panicked, doesn’t it?

Even if Gnonto is someone the club have scouted for a long time, and he was likely to be a signing at some stage, it feels as though they did this to save face, having failed in pursuit of other players more first-team ready.

Undeniably talented, and still useful off the bench, he is younger and less experienced than the likes of Gakpo and De Ketelaere. Leeds clearly wanted someone more established but also didn’t want to be light on numbers with Dan James departing.

A disappointing end to the window for Marsch’s side, despite the obvious excitement around the young Italian wonderkid. Dan James’ replacement is going to need to be ‘Premier League ready’ fairly quickly.

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Daniel James' youth career started with Hull City

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