Following their promotion to the Premier League in summer 2020, Leeds United spent big money to ensure that they were equipped for the top flight, with the signings of Rodrigo (£26m) and Raphinha (£17m) standing out.
However, it is easy to forget that the permanent capture of current first-choice goalkeeper Illan Meslier from Lorient, after spending the 2019/20 season on loan, cost the Whites just £5m.
The ‘keeper was a major contributor to Leeds’ promotion campaign and has since made 58 appearances in the Premier League, missing just three matches.
A full 17 months on from making his stay at Elland Road permanent, the 21-year-old is now worth £18m according to Transfermarkt, a 260% increase from when the deal was signed, already proving how good a decision it was from the Yorkshire outfit to keep the Frenchman.
Upon making his loan move permanent, Meslier was worth just under the fee reportedly paid by Leeds at £4.05m, having been worth slightly more at £4.5m prior to the outbreak of the global pandemic.
However, since Leeds’ promotion, the goalkeeper’s value has continued to appreciate in value, with the Frenchman worth £7.2m in October 2020 after the first month of the Premier League season and then £10.8m before the end of the year.
By March 2021, Meslier’s value had rocketed again, increasing by £4.5m before reaching the current valuation of £18m in June.
Last season, the Frenchman kept 11 clean sheets in 35 league appearances whilst averaging four saves per game, saving 73% of the shots he faced, according to SofaScore. Moreover, the goalkeeper conceded 1.5 goals per game on average whilst saving one of nine penalties he faced as the Whites went on to impressively finish ninth.
The 21-year-old was also the subject of glowing praise on numerous occasions, with The Athletic’s Phil Hay stating after a game against Fulham: “It was ridiculous [save from Maja] and he’s pulled off quite a few like that, which I think is the sort of thing that marks him out as massive goalkeeping talent.”
However, the current campaign hasn’t gone to plan, with Marcelo Bielsa’s side currently 15th and just six points clear of the relegation zone. Unsurprisingly, Meslier’s form has correlated with that of his team, with the £2.1k per-week Frenchman not meeting the same standards set in 2020/21.
In 23 appearances this term, the goalkeeper has only kept three clean sheets, whilst goals conceded per game is slightly up at two. Moreover, the 21-year-old is making fewer saves per game (3.5) and is saving fewer shots faced (63%), whilst failing to save any of the three penalties faced thus far.
It could be argued that a lack of competition at the Yorkshire club could be a contributing factor to Meslier’s slight downturn, with 21-year-old Kristoffer Klaesson the only other senior goalkeeper at Leeds, as per Transfermarkt.
Despite not currently matching the form of last season, there is no doubting Meslier’s quality and potential, with the Frenchman’s value set to continue soaring and the Elland Road powerbrokers content in the knowledge that they struck gold by signing him for a snip.