Leeds United winger Wilfried Gnonto is reportedly expected to make the switch to a Premier League side this month, with the Whites having already identified Burnley’s Manuel Benson as his replacement.
That is according to European transfer journalist Sacha Tavolieri, who claims that it is top-flight side West Ham who look set to complete the purchase of the Italian youngster.
Gnonto is no stranger to transfer speculation given his precarious position in West Yorkshire during last summer, where the 20-year-old effectively froze himself out of manager Daniel Farke’s squad by refusing to play amid rumoured interest from Premier League outfit Everton.
And, whilst this situation eventually resolved itself with Farke extending the olive branch to the Italian international, uncertainty surrounding the winger’s future at Leeds has reared its head again with Tavolieri claiming that West Ham have an interest in acquiring his signature this January.
What has been said?
Writing on X (formerly Twitter), Tavolieri reports that Leeds are “expecting a sale” of Gnonto to David Moyes’ side before the transfer window closes. The Whites are not planning on selling the Italian without sorting a replacement however, with Burnley winger Benson reportedly on Leeds’ radar.
🚨 EXCL. 🟡🏴 And now… #LeedsUnited’s also pushing!
🇮🇹 #LUFC expecting a (likely) sale of Wilfried Gnonto to West Ham United before the end of the window pointed out the name of… Manuel Benson as a priority target as a replacement.
🇧🇪 Case open and still moving until the end… pic.twitter.com/nhBhKYpPJu
— Sacha Tavolieri (@sachatavolieri) January 18, 2024
“Leeds are expecting a sale of Wilfried Gnonto to West Ham United before the end of the window,” Tavolieri wrote.
“Manuel Benson is their priority target as a replacement. [Talks] open and still moving until the end for the Belgian winger of Burnley!”
Who is Manuel Benson?
Benson joined Burnley from Belgian side Royal Antwerp in the summer of 2022, and was a key driving force behind Vincent Kompany’s side securing promotion to the Premier League as champions, scoring 12 times in 33 league appearances.
Yet things have taken a turn for the worse for Benson since Burnley’s return to the top-flight, with the Belgian struggling to break into Kompany’s strongest XI. The 26-year-old has played just 73 minutes of league football for the Clarets so far this term, and as such has been heavily linked with a move away from Turf Moor in recent times.
Benson would bring second-tier experience – but is he a priority?
When asked about any potential movements that his side may make in January, Leeds boss Farke has insisted that to keep hold of any figures in the dressing room who he views as squad players is crucial. Given Gnonto’s current status in the side – with most of the Italian’s 22 appearances this season coming as a substitute – it is fair to place him within this bracket.
So, unless West Ham were to stump up a significant fee for Gnonto’s services, selling him would make little sense, even if the Whites were to replace him with a player who has secured promotion from the Championship previously in Benson.
The priority for Leeds during this transfer window has to be both a left-back and right-back, with a new centre-back also required if Charlie Cresswell also departs. Depending on what happens in the remainder of the season for the Whites, a move for Benson may be one worth revisiting in summer if the opportunity presents itself.