Live from Thorp Arch: Meslier display shows Leeds in safe hands
By Mark Smith at Thorp Arch
With the deadline having passed for Leeds United goalkeeper Kiko Casilla to respond to an FA charge of alleged racist abuse, attention could have switched to who could replace him should the worst happen.
The Spaniard has previously denied the allegation, but if found guilty he could be banned for a minimum of six games.
Illan Meslier starred for the Under-23s on Friday against Sheffield United and he could finally get the chance he has been waiting for since arriving from Lorient on loan in the summer.
The Athletic journalist Phil Hay recently responded to a fan in a Q&A, claiming that Meslier will be given a chance if Casilla is hit with a ban.
“I’m hearing that Bielsa is likely to give Meslier a go. I mean if he doesn’t then what on earth was the point of signing Meslier as a replacement for BPF [Bailey Peacock-Farrell]. It’s pointless having a number two you don’t trust to play.”
Leeds would certainly be in safe hands should Meslier be given the chance. The young Frenchman was phenomenal in the under-23s’ 2-1 win on Friday.
The 19-year-old played a vital role, saving a penalty and commanding his area as Carlos Corberan’s side made it three wins on the spin at Thorp Arch.
The penalty save was smart, with Meslier diving low to his right to push the ball away. He’s got history here too – only the brave will relish taking a spot kick against him.
Meslier was solid with the ball at his feet and didn’t stop communicating with his defence all afternoon during the win. His stats from Lorient last season prove that he is more than capable of filling in the hole potentially left by Casilla.
According to WyScout, he made 1.91 saves per game in Ligue 2 and had a passing accuracy of 71.1% for long balls and 99.2% for short balls.
Marcelo Bielsa demands his keeper is as good with the ball at his feet as an outfield player, and those stats prove that Meslier certainly is.
We have seen the 19-year-old on a number of occasions this season, and we have not been disappointed once. We believe we are in safe hands with Meslier should his time come, but the Championship is a big step up from the under-23s.
In other Leeds news, Phil Hay claims Bielsa will turn to Meslier if Casilla is banned for Leeds