By George Overhill

3rd Oct, 2022 | 6:10pm

Leeds United face run on Illan Meslier, tough to keep hold of him - Nigel Martyn

Illan Meslier will “really start to develop” in the next few seasons and Leeds United will face a struggle to keep hold of him, says Nigel Martyn.

The former Whites goalkeeper has heaped praise on the current star man for being way ahead of him in terms of development at a young age, and expects a number of teams will already be eyeing him up for a move in the future.

Meslier, 22, has already made 96 appearances for United since arriving from FC Lorient in 2019 originally on loan, and is now likely the club’s highest value asset according to Phil Hay [Phil Hay Show, 23 September, 6min 30sec], but Martyn feels it could be just a matter of time until he moves on.

Speaking to Sun Sport the BBC pundit said: “He won’t realise it now but he’s nowhere near his best. 

“The toughest thing will be keeping hold of him in the next two or three years, when he really starts to develop. 

“With the saves he makes at such a young age, there will be people watching him already and just timing when they want to make the call to try and get him. 

“The thing for us is to enjoy him for as long as we can and try to keep hold of him for as long as we can. 

“I’m a big fan. He was getting a bit of grief a couple of years ago so I posted a picture on Twitter of me at that age, playing in the Cornwall senior cup for St Blazey! 

“Development wise, he is miles ahead of where I was.” 

Inevitable

Unless or until the Whites can consistently get into the top half of the Premier League and challenge for Europe it will be the reality of the situation that their best players are at risk of leaving if they perform especially well.

That is what played out over the summer with Raphinha and Kalvin Phillips and Meslier appears to be the most likely candidate for to happen with at some point in the future.

Once he makes the expected step up to being a full France international that will only increase his value and the amount of attention he gets.

For now he remains a key building block for Jesse Marsch, and as the defence shows such fluctuations in form he is vital for maintaining some stability at the back.

As Martyn says, it will be a matter of the club fighting to keep hold of him for as long as possible, but a succession plan will be required.

With some luck he could still have multiple seasons yet at Elland Road, but if he gets even better in the next couple of years as the former England international expects it will become trickier.

The hierarchy appears to have done a decent job in replacing the two departed stars this summer with the signings of Marc Roca, Tyler Adams, and Luis Sinisterra, red card against Aston Villa (2 October) notwithstanding.

Plans should be put in place sooner rather than later to do the same for Meslier since he seems crucial now, but may well feel even more so if he’s not there.

In other Leeds United news, one key summer transfer is the proudest achievement of an important Elland Road figure who could be on his way out.