Leeds United Will Permanently Sign Frenchman If They Win Promotion: Another Genius Move By Bielsa?

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 06: Illan Meslier of Leeds United applauds the travelling fans following his side's defeat during the FA Cup Third Round match between Arsenal FC and Leeds United at the Emirates Stadium on January 06, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

According to Mirror, Leeds United are poised to sign Illan Meslier permanently if they win promotion to the Premier League next season. The Whites are currently leading the Championship table, but the Coronavirus pandemic has created a layer of uncertainty. As for Meslier, Leeds do have an option to trigger his £6 million buyout clause which they’ll likely use if they win promotion.

How has Ilian Meslier performed at Leeds?

Meslier joined Leeds United in a season-long loan deal from Lorient last summer. He was brought in as the replacement for Bailey Peacock-Farrell, who joined Burnley. And unsurprisingly, the Frenchman was considered as the desired backup for first-choice goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.

The ex-Real Madrid star has been a first-team regular throughout the campaign, making 35 league appearances. But, his suspension saw Meslier feature in goal in Leeds’ last two matches. He kept clean sheets in both of those fixtures against Hull City and Huddersfield respectively.

Analysing Casilla’s performance this season

To understand Meslier’s prospects at Leeds in the long-term, it is crucial to analyse how first-choice ‘keeper Casilla has fared this season.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JANUARY 06: Illan Meslier of Leeds United looks on during the FA Cup Third Round match between Arsenal FC and Leeds United at the Emirates Stadium on January 06, 2020, in London, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The veteran Spaniard has averaged two saves per game so far. His tally of only 70 saves is understandable given the fact that Leeds have the defensive record in the league. The Whites have let in only 30 goals. They have also conceded the second least shots and least shots on target.

That means Casilla has made 70 saves out of the 103 shots on target, which is a pretty decent number for any goalkeeper. However, the 33-year-old does not instil much confidence in between the sticks. He has also made some high-profile errors, and that is something Leeds simply cannot afford at the highest level of football.

Why Marcelo Bielsa must sign Meslier permanently

Casilla’s mishaps in goal could dearly cost Leeds United next season if they do get promoted to the Premier League. And with that in mind, it could be imperative for Bielsa to secure the services of Meslier permanently.

The Leeds United manager already considers the Frenchman as one of Europe’s best goalkeeping talents. Although Casilla is still likely to remain the club’s first-choice ‘keeper next season (atleast initially), Meslier’s performances have already calmed a lot of nerves. Hence, he could be given a chance to make a breakthrough.

Stat courtesy: Whoscored & Footstats

Jack O’Brien

A 22 y/o football nerd seeking my way into football writing. I love Irish football and also the Premier League. A huge Arsenal fan! Aside from writing, I like to spend my time fishing and drinking beer.