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‘Messi is my idol’ breakout Italy starlet dreams of Barcelona career

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Wilfried Gnonto hopes he will secure a move to Camp Nou later in his career.

Italian starlet Wilfried Gnonto has revealed his desire to join the Catalans.

Gnonto earned an unexpected national team call-up after his solid season at Switzerland side FC Zurich. He went on to impress in his first few caps for Italy during the UEFA Nations League games last month.

The 18-year-old provided an assist in his debut, where Italy held Germany to a 1-1 draw. A week later, he scored in Azzurri’s 5-2 defeat against Die Mannschaft at Borussia-Park.

Speaking to SportWeek, Gnonto discussed his admiration for Lionel Messi.

He said: “My dream is to play for Barcelona. Messi is my idol, even now that he is at PSG. He made so many sacrifices from the beginning, his family has always supported him and he never forgets his origins.

“He’s a quiet guy, he hasn’t gotten too big-headed; I see myself in him. On the pitch, then, he is unique.”

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FC Zurich signed Gnonto on a free transfer from Inter in July 2020. Looking back at his time at San Siro, the Azzurri starlet remembers how he became a hardcore Inter fan. 

“It was there that I met the man who is now my best friend in football: Elio Zalli, a forward like me,” the teenage forward added.

“Now he’s at Sassuolo, we talk all the time. When I arrived in Milan I wasn’t a fan, for me there was only Barcelona and Messi.

“Then I became fond of the Nerazzurri, and sometimes I even cried. 

“On the occasion of Inter-Juve in April 2018, for example: the match of Pjanic’s missed sending off for the foul on Rafinha. 

“I was at the San Siro with a friend of mine, and when Higuain scored with a few minutes to go we burst into tears. That night I became an Interista for real.”