After initially arriving at Leeds United on a loan deal, it’s fair to say Illan Meslier has grown into his role as the club’s undisputed number one goalkeeper.
The 20-year-old initially started life at Elland Road as Kiko Casilla’s back-up, but after the Spaniard’s lengthy ban, Meslier grabbed his opportunity with both hands, and now finds himself as the Premier League’s side main man in between the sticks.
A lot of credit goes towards director of football, Victor Orta, for first spotting his talent and bringing him to Elland Road in the first place, and then securing him on a permanent basis in the summer.
In fact, reports had even suggested that Marcelo Bielsa’s side had paid just £5m to sign him on a long-term deal – absolute pittance when you think of the ridiculous sums of money that gets bandied about in the modern market.
And speaking on The Inside Elland Road Podcast, The Yorkshire Evening Post’s Graham Smyth said: “He’s been great, hasn’t he? For a 20-year-old, for £5m, I mean Victor Orta – it feels almost illegal what he’s done getting a player of that quality at that age for £5m, remarkable business.”
With 67 saves this season in the Premier League, Meslier ranks joint-third in the competition, a real testament to his work given Leeds’ games have been dominated by end-to-end action – hardly the kind of football that goalkeepers or defender would want.
And aside from his ever-improving shot-stopping, the young Frenchman’s ability with his feet has always been one of his standout attributes, with former Whites striker Jermaine Beckford raving: “The kid is incredible. I was watching the game (against Everton) and there were a couple of moments, (Dominic) Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and James (Rodriguez) had chances, but Meslier stood in their way. His distribution is one of the best in the Premier League.”
At just 20, Meslier could quite conceivably go on to be Leeds’ keeper for at least the next decade or so if he keeps progressing and developing like he has done in his time at the club thus far. There’s no questioning that his signing has been an absolute dream deal for the Yorkshire side.