Wilfried Gnonto’s decision to apologise directly to Leeds United manager Daniel Farke was a key factor in the German giving the young forward a “second chance” by allowing him to reintegrate into the Whites first-team.
Gnonto has refused to play in Leeds last three competitive fixtures in a bid to force the Yorkshire giants to sell him to Premier League side Everton, even going so far as to submit a formal request for transfer on the eve of the Whites’ clash with West Brom last Friday evening.
The 19-year-old – alongside Colombian forward Luis Sinisterra – was removed from the first-team dressing room and told to train separately from the rest of the squad due to his actions.
An update provided by The Athletic’s Phil Hay earlier this week confirmed that Gnonto had been allowed to begin training with the Leeds first-team once again following internal discussions with both Farke and club CEO Angus Kinnear.
This development, presumably, puts both Gnonto and Sinisterra back into contention for places in Farke’s starting XI for their next fixture, a difficult test against table-topping Ipswich Town this Saturday.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference earlier today, Farke explained the circumstances surrounding his decision to bring Gnonto back into the fold.
“At the beginning of the week he came to see me and explained his situation and he apologised that he had made a mistake.
“He asked if he could be involved in team training and he is 100 per cent ready.
“My decision was to give him a second chance and if he impresses in training he will earn a spot in the squad.
“I’m always open to give a young player a second chance but he knows that there is no third chance. The ball is in his court now.”
The 46-year-old manager also expressed his approval for the strength the club hierarchy showed in handling the situation, and even showed a degree of sympathy for Gnonto himself, putting his recent actions down to “poor advice” from those surrounding him.
“We’re grateful that Angus Kinnear and our other key people were strong. We were all on the same page. My feeling was that when a player behaves like this you are not blackmailed.
“For me it is not about the name or the quality of the player, you have to make sure that as a club you are in the driving seat. You have to send a message that nobody plays games with Leeds United.
“We all make mistakes at 18 or 19 and I think he had some poor advice. Obviously, we would have wished he had behaved in a different way.”
The return of both Gnonto and Sinisterra provides Leeds’ forward line with a significant boost, one which they will need if they are to secure their first league win of the season against the Tractor Boys on Saturday.