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Exclusive: Nigel Martyn picks Leeds youngster as breakthrough talent of 2020

Nigel Martyn has told Leeds United.News that the club’s breakthrough talent of the last 12 months is goalkeeper Illan Meslier, after the Frenchman broke into the side towards the end of the Championship campaign and since retained his place. But Martyn does have once concern regarding the goalkeeper.

Meslier, 20, joined Leeds on a season-long loan that included a permanent option in the summer of 2019 from French side Lorient. He initially began the campaign as back-up to Spain international Kiko Casilla – but an incident against Charlton saw the former Real Madrid stopper banned for eight games and Meslier took full advantage.

Despite shipping six against Manchester United last time out, Meslier has now clocked up 25 appearances for Leeds – conceding 35 but keeping 11 clean sheets. The France Under-20 international cost a bargain figure of just £5million to sign permanently, and he is already exceeding that transfer fee by quite some distance.

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We asked Leeds icon Martyn who he felt deserved the title of the club’s breakthrough talent of 2020 – and the former England goalkeeper picked Meslier. He applauded the Frenchman’s start to the season, but is concerned that his spiritis remain high – after conceding 30 goals, more than any other side or goalkeeper in the Premier League this season.

“The goalie has made some great saves, he really has. I think his temperament is fantastic for one so young. I’ve been really impressed with him. He is the breakthrough player. He is 20, he doesn’t need to get as much work as he is getting,” Martyn told LeedsUnited.News.

“I just hope he is not too hurt by all the goals. He looks as though he has calm, level-head on his shoulders. There are too many goals going in – but not down to him.  I think he has been a breakthrough at 20 – playing where he is playing is incredible.”

Leeds face a crucial next two matches that could determine whether they enter the new year in a relegation battle – facing Burnley on Sunday and then West Bromwich Albion, who have recently appointed Sam Allardyce as a replacement for Slaven Bilic. Certainly, Marcelo Bielsa will be hoping Illan Meslier continues his excellent form when it comes to Sunday’s clash.

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