Leeds United struck gold in their £5m deal for Illan Meslier as his stock continues to rise at Elland Road…
The 21-year-old shot-stopper joined the Yorkshire giants from Ligue 1 outfit Lorient back in August 2019, initially on loan, in a bid to provide backup to veteran Kiko Casilla.
He quickly made a name for himself amongst the U23s setup as by December, he had saved three penalties. By January 2020, he was involved in their FA Cup clash with Arsenal, where he made his senior debut for the club.
Meslier impressed despite a 1-0 defeat, earning rave reviews from The Athletic’s Phil Hay.
‘Meslier pulled off several difficult saves at the Emirates but it was the precision of his passing – floated deliveries into tight spaces, countering Arsenal’s press and allowing Leeds to rage through the lines – that suggested he would cope as interim first-choice if Kiko Casilla’s FA racism charge leads to a suspension.’
Indeed, his opportunity soon came with the Spaniard suspended for eight games.
The rest has been history.
He took over the reins as the no.1 ever since and he has not looked back.
But as expected, his fine form has started to attract interest from elsewhere as it has done with similar stars like Kalvin Phillips – on the back of a phenomenal Euro 2020 campaign – and Raphinha, who has had to bear the brunt of their attacking output in the absence of the injured Patrick Bamford.
The Athletic claim that the Whites are bracing themselves for bids for all three players and whilst they are not irreplaceable, the departure of Meslier could be most damaging.
In almost a reverse situation, it is now the young Frenchman that does not have a sufficient – or vastly experienced – back up behind him.
If is ever sold, Leeds will know that they are in line for a hefty profit.
The 21-year-old’s transfer valuation has soared due to his form at Elland Road – as per CIES Football Observatory, Meslier is now worth around €50m (£42m).
That’s an increase of 740% since his permanent arrival in July 2020.
Back in March 2021, Hay waxed lyrical about the goalkeeper following a particularly stunning display 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.
“He’s so young that there are parts of his game which are going to have to improve, aerially particularly, I think that’s quite apparent to everybody, but he is only 21.
“That is a young age for a footballer, generally, but a very, very young age for a goalkeeper – the potential in him is vast.”
Also dubbed a “rare talent” and a “big talent“, it’s easy to see how Leeds have struck gold with Meslier. Victor Orta signing him for just £5m now looks like a mockery with his value now breaking past the £40m mark.
United will certainly be in line to receive a pretty penny should he be sold in the future.
AND in other news, Leeds United dealt “hammer blow” before Aston Villa clash…