Have Leeds uncovered another gem in Illan Meslier?

Marcelo Bielsa before the Carabao Cup match between Salford City and Leeds United at Moor Lane, Salford on Tuesday 13th August 2019.

Illan Meslier made his first appearance for Leeds United in their opening under-23 game of the new season.

Illan Meslier of France during the friendly match between Argentina and France U20 at Pinatar Arena in Murcia, Spain on March 20 2019.

It seems fair to say that Leeds' move for Illan Meslier surprised a lot of the Elland Road faithful with Marcelo Bielsa already boasting a couple of youngsters seemingly capable of stepping up as Kiko Casilla's understudy.

While the Whites signing a new goalkeeper in the final days of the summer made a lot of sense in light of how Casilla finished last season, supporters would have been forgiven for expecting a more experienced backup to arrive rather than a player who is younger than both Will Huffer and Kamil Miazek.

 

In fairness to Meslier, he arrived with a good amount of first-team experience under his belt having spent some time as Lorient's first-choice last season. And while Leeds did not mention the clause, the Ligue 2 side confirmed upon his arrival at Elland Road that Bielsa's men had the option to make the move permanent. 

And after seeing the 19-year-old make his first appearance for the Whites in Monday's under-23 clash with Millwall, it appears that it has become a lot easier to understand the logic behind Leeds' decision to sign Meslier on loan, as it seems that the Championship side may have uncovered another gem.

Illan Meslier of France looks on in the tunnel ahead of the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup group E match between Mali and France at Gdynia Stadium on May 31, 2019 in Gdynia, Poland.

Meslier was beaten twice during the 3-2 victory, but the second goal was a superb drive into the bottom corner while the first only came about after he produced an outstanding save to deny the Lions from the penalty spot. The ball went onto the post, and the visitors were able to take the chance at the second attempt as Leeds' defenders were caught napping. 

The teenager looked comfortable coming for crosses, and his distribution looks to be a real strength, just as it is for Casilla. It is not too difficult to see why Leeds wanted Meslier in as the Spaniard's understudy when there appears to be plenty of similarities in their games.

Marcelo Bielsa before the Carabao Cup match between Salford City and Leeds United at Moor Lane, Salford on Tuesday 13th August 2019.

One encouraging performance for Carlos Corberan's side will not see Meslier put any pressure on Casilla, but the Frenchman has quickly demonstrated how much potential he boasts. 

If he can build on that display, Leeds will surely not hesitate to take up the option in his loan move. And perhaps, Casilla may start to wonder if he has a new rival rather than another understudy. 

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