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Pundit ‘can’t believe’ Javi Gracia has benched Leeds forward Wilfried Gnonto

Pundit ‘can’t believe’ Javi Gracia has benched Leeds forward Wilfried Gnonto - Leeds United News

Pundit Gabby Agbonlahor has been left shocked at Leeds United head coach Javi Gracia for demoting Wilfried Gnonto to the bench in recent weeks.

The Lowdown: Benched

Gnonto arrived in Yorkshire on deadline day in the summer from FC Zurich and had to initially remain patient for a chance in the first team.

Former manager Jesse Marsch handed the 19-year-old his Premier League debut at the end of October in the 2-1 win over Liverpool, coming on from the bench to help set up Crysencio Summerville’s late winner.

Since then, Gnonto has featured in every top-flight game, contributing to four goals. However, Gracia decided to end the forward’s run of ten straight league starts by placing him on the bench against Chelsea and once again used him from the bench against Brighton last time out.

The Latest: Agbonlahor’s comments

Agbonlahor, who contributes for Sky Sports, was talking to Football Insider regarding Gnonto, who he described as a ‘top player’ with ‘scary pace’.

The pundit admitted he could not believe Gracia has benched the forward for the last two games and said that he has to be in the team for the Whites ‘to have the best chance of staying up’.

“I think he can be the one to get them out of this. I can’t believe he’s on the bench.

“He’s a top player. He might not be on Raphinha’s level just yet, as he’s only 19 – but he’s got that directness, that scary pace.

“He could do better with his final ball or with his finishing – but that will only get better and better in the future.

“I can see him being at that Raphinha level in the next couple of seasons. Leeds United

“Leeds need him. He can turn up and produce big goals and big performances.

“It’s going to be a real battle, but for them to have the best chance of staying up – he has to be in that Leeds team. There’s no doubt about it.”

The Verdict: Needed

Gnonto has been a real right spark for Leeds this season in what has been another disappointing campaign on the whole.

He’s proven to be a shrewd signing and, as per WhoScored, has been the club’s most fouled player alongside Brenden Aaronson. Gnonto also ranks highly when it comes to key passes, dribbles and shots per game, and with Jack Harrison coming in for criticism, it could be time for Gracia to bring Gnonto back into the starting XI, potentially for this weekend’s trip to Wolves.

Whether or not Gracia will select the Italy international from the off remains to be seen, but as Agbonlahor says, he could be key for Leeds in their bid to avoid the drop.

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