Illan Meslier has kept four Premier League clean sheets in 10 games, and two in his last two games against Arsenal and Everton – coming in for plenty of plaudits as Leeds United’s man between the sticks, and Jermaine Beckford has continued that praise on the Doing A Leeds podcast.
Meslier, 20, was a £5million signing from French side Lorient in the summer after initially impressing on loan at Elland Road – when coming in for ex-Real Madrid stopper and Spain international Kiko Casilla. This season, he has been absolutely fundamental to Leeds picking up 14 points from their first 10 games.
The France Under-20 ace now has four clean sheets in England’s top tier to his name – stopping Aston Villa, Sheffield United, Arsenal and Everton. In each of those matches, he has made sparkling saves to keep his clean sheet intact. One handed saves to deny John Lundstam against the Blades and Abdoulaye Doucoure were near carbon copies.
Bukayo Saka went through on goal for Arsenal while Leeds were dominating but the pace and agility of Meslier saw him keep up with Saka and deflect the ball behind for a corner. Jack Grealish’s mazy run was only stopped by the feet of Meslier against Villa – and Beckford has labelled him “incredible”.
“The kid is incredible. Two clean sheets against Arsenal and Everton. That speaks volumes in itself,” Beckford told the Doing a Leeds podcast. “I was watching the game and there were a couple of moments, [Dom] Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and James [Rodriguez] had chances, but Meslier stood in their way. His distribution is one of the best in the Premier League.”
His form has been sensational and it is hard to blame the Frenchman for any of the goals conceded – perhaps getting down slightly slowly against Crystal Palace to Helder Costa’s own goal. With Liam Cooper and Robin Koch in front of him, Meslier is quickly becoming one of the bargains of the Premier League season.
Meslier will start against Chelsea on Saturday as Casilla continues to watch from the bench – and he will certainly need to be at his best to stop Chelsea’s superior attacking talent, which includes Timo Werner, Kai Havertz, Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Hakim Ziyech and plenty more.