Leeds United’s decision to sign Illan Meslier during the final hours of the transfer window seemed to raise a number of eyebrows amongst the Elland Road faithful.
The Whites would have been taking a big gamble to let the deadline pass without signing another stopper following Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s exit. But the 19-year-old’s arrival on loan looked an intriguing move.
Both Will Huffer and Kamil Miazek have shown promise for United’s under-23s, while the former also did well during a loan spell with Barnet. With Marcelo Bielsa keeping faith with Kiko Casilla, some may have been tempted to promote one of the youngsters.
Meslier’s arrival also meant that Leeds had six loanees on the books once the window shut. That has meant that one has often had to miss out on their squad in the Championship. Some may have expected the Frenchman to be left out, but it has actually been Jack Clarke who has suffered most.
The teenager is still awaiting the chance to make his senior debut for the Whites. But based on his displays for the under-23s, it is becoming clear to see why Leeds signed him last month.
And it may be fair to say that Meslier’s form could leave Leeds with a simple transfer decision next summer.
Lorient confirmed on their website when announcing Meslier’s loan that Leeds had the option to make the goalkeeper’s loan permanent.
Since then, Meslier has already saved two penalties for Carlos Corberan’s side, including one in Monday’s goalless draw with Crystal Palace.
Casilla’s ideal understudy
It is becoming abundantly clear to see why Leeds felt that the starlet would be an ideal understudy for Casilla. His distribution looks to be one of his strongest attributes. He also needs little encouragement to come off his line if the ball is there to be won.
There is a long way to go in the season, and he is not yet the finished article. But with Casilla looking more settled this term, there looks to be time for Meslier to develop gradually.
It is not clear what Leeds would need to pay to keep Meslier beyond this season. But perhaps, it should not surprise anyone if signing the goalkeeper permanently is one of the first pieces of business the Whites sort when the 2020 summer window opens.