Jesse Marsch has told his press conference that Leeds United made an absolutely fantastic decision signing Joel Robles in the summer, labelling his performance in midweek ‘incredible’.
Joel was not one of the marquee additions of the most recent window. He arrived as a free agent after being released by Real Betis.
Of course, Illan Meslier has been first-choice for the large majority of his time at Elland Road. And it was not expected amongst the fanbase that Joel would be able to jump ahead in the pecking order.
Marsch lauds Joel Robles
However, it appeared to be a shrewd move. Kristoffer Klaesson shone on his Premier League debut, but had a difficult first season with the under-23s.
Joel has featured for the under-21s since his arrival. But his first-team bow came on Wednesday as Leeds faced Wolves in the Carabao Cup at Molineux.
Ultimately, it proved to be a disappointing night for the Whites. A late goal saw Wolves edge the tie. But Joel was one of several players who really impressed.
He made several good stops and read the game extremely well. He often helped the defence when Wolves tried to play the ball long.
It was the kind of display which highlighted that the former Everton man should be able to come in if needed at any stage. And Marsch suggested that he has been very happy with the impact Joel has made since joining the club in the summer.
“We wanted a veteran goalkeeper to come in to help push our young goalkeepers competitively everyday, and to help provide a little bit more experience as to what the position can look like with savviness and understanding and control of the match through that position. And then, a guy that knew what the role was and could commit to it all the way in a selfless manner,” he told his press conference.
“I’ve told Joel from the third week that he was here that I could see that he was the perfect guy and we made an absolutely fantastic decision to bring him here, and I’ve encouraged him to continue to be himself, to integrate himself, to be a leader in the group, to certainly help Illan and Kris and also push them.
“And I think he’s done that perfectly, literally perfectly. And I thought the match he played against Wolves showed all of his qualities, which isn’t just his technical and tactical ability. But also his feel of the game was incredible.”
Meslier improvement surely down to Leeds
Given Marsch’s comments, it is probably not a coincidence that Leeds have seen better performances from Meslier this season.
Last year was extremely tough for the Frenchman. And you had to wonder whether knowing that he was highly unlikely to be dropped had any impact. He also did not have an experienced teammate pushing him on the training ground.
Meslier’s role remains extremely safe. But it does seem that he now has a more genuine rival for his spot. And should his standards slip, Joel is there waiting in the wings.
Marsch will be hoping that Joel will not be needed in the Premier League. But clearly, Leeds are gaining a lot from having him in the ranks.