Illan Meslier dazzled for Leeds United’s Under-23s today.
Leeds United Under-23 side held their Crystal Palace equivalents to a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park this afternoon.
But it could and would have been quite a heavy defeat for United if not for their new goalkeeper, Illan Meslier.
The 19-year-old Frenchman, who signed for Leeds on loan from Lorient this past summer, pulled off a number of stunning saves to deny the Londoners.
Meslier hasn’t made his debut under Marcelo Bielsa as of yet but on the evidence of his performance today, he’s very hungry to impress.
Leeds don’t have the most reliable goalkeeper in the form of Kiko Casilla. Well, he’s a hell of a lot more reliable than, say, Felix Wiedwald was, but the former Real Madrid man is prone to the occasional error, as Bielsa discovered in the playoff semi-final defeat by Derby County last season.
And Meslier’s display against the Eagles means that Bielsa may not hesitate to rotate Casilla with the teenager if the former gives him a reason to.
Yes, it was only the Under-23s and therefore heroics from any player in any position should be taken with a pinch of salt given the context, but a brilliant save is a brilliant save whether the shot is from Lionel Messi’s boot or a League Two player’s – and Meslier made a series of them today.
Bielsa often watches Carlos Corberan’s side in action and no doubt the Argentine will be delighted with the youngster when he gets around to reviewing the footage, assuming he didn’t make the trip to London.
The performance won’t be enough to make Bielsa drop Casilla on the spot, but it should tell him that Meslier – a France Under-20 international – has an abundance of talent and appetite and Casilla’s next mistake could be costly for him.