Leeds United, under Massimo Cellino, relied heavily on the Italian market and an influx of loan players. The arrival of these at Elland Road was more miss than hit, to be fair. It is also a system that the Whites have relied on under Marcelo Bielsa but with more planning and forethought gone into who has been brought in. One of these players, says Noel Whelan in speaking to Football Insider, is going to be a deal going just one way.
That player is young French goalkeeper Ilham Meslier and Whelan is of the opinion that the Whites will splash the cash to bring him in on a permanent deal. The basis of Whelan’s opinion is a video the 20-year-old shot-stopper posted in reply to a young Leeds fan practising his goalkeeping skills whilst in self-isolation lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
That video message (below) came via Leeds United’s official Twitter account.
— Leeds United (@LUFC) March 24, 2020
It is this reply that Whelan thinks is a hint over Meslier’s future at the club with the former Leeds United striker saying of this: “Well, it looks that way, doesn’t it? It seems that way.” Meslier was ostensibly brought to Leeds to act as a back-up for former Real Madrid keeper Kiko Casilla. However, the latter’s eight-game ban for racially abusing Jonathan Leko has forced the French stopper into the first-team.
Meslier first tasted this level of action at the club appearing for the Whites in the narrow 1-0 loss to Arsenal in the FA Cup. He performed well in that game and has done so in keeping clean sheets against Hull City and Huddersfield Town in Casilla’s enforced absence.
Whelan adds to this saying: “I don’t think Leeds would have gone into the market to get a loan player so young if it wasn’t for the long-term, ” before ending his opinion more definitively by adding, “I can only see that loan move becoming permanent.”