By George Overhill

3rd Jan, 2023 | 9:10pm

Illan Meslier in Chelsea sights as Leeds United face hard time the keep hold of French star

Illan Meslier is continuing to “impress everyone in England” with his form and Leeds United will struggle to keep him, according to Foot Mercato.

Following his standout performance in the goalless draw at Newcastle on 31 December his importance to the Whites cause has once again been highlighted.

But with the January transfer window now open, according to the French publication’s most recent information Chelsea remain “on the lookout” for the 22-year-old “phenomenon” of the Whites squad.

On his current trajectory the Leeds United number one is tipped to become the main attraction in a goalkeeper market where “pearls” are often a rarity, and will be difficult to keep hold of despite a contract that runs until 2026.

Meslier has already racked up over a century of first-team appearances since arriving at Elland Road, while as the Foot Mercato report notes, he is the youngest keeper to both 50 appearances and 10 clean sheets in the Premier League, and is on the verge of the French senior squad.

Vital

It is inevitable that a fight to keep hold of Meslier materialises sooner or later because of the unique nature of the position he plays.

Keepers don’t reach their prime until years older than he is currently and can play for years after outfield careers start to slow down.

Top level players tend to have to develop at lower levels and on loan before becoming established first-team stalwarts in the Premier League, so a player with 89 top flight appearances who could feasibly still play for two decades will stand out.

It is one thing replacing a Raphinha or a Kalvin Phillips when the top clubs come calling with big money but a different proposition to fill the gloves of an established young star in goal.

While the aforementioned stars had to be let go at prices that many fans felt could have been higher, the fact that Meslier’s deal doesn’t expire for another three and a half seasons at least gives the club the security to extract maximum value when approaches begin.

And if it is Chelsea who are the ones to go after him that fee could be major, based on the club’s ongoing wild spending since Todd Boehly took charge.

In other Leeds United news, a shock revisit to a dramatic previous transfer chase has been suggested on Sky Sports as the club’s transfer priority becomes clear.