MOT View: Bielsa may have eyed new Leeds PL starter as he sends employee to watch Austrian 24y/o
Leeds United are likely to find themselves in need of a new starting goalkeeper before the start of next season due to doubts surrounding Kiko Casilla’s future.
The Athletic journalist Phil Hay reported in June that “there’s a very strong likelihood” the 33-year-old Spaniard will move on in the summer transfer window due to his ban for racially abusing Jonathan Leko and his indifferent form in the Championship.
While he was banned, Illan Meslier replaced him as Marcelo Bielsa’s first-choice goalkeeper and now the young Frenchman’s been signed permanently, the signs are not looking good for Casilla’s longevity at Elland Road.
As such, the Whites are bound to be in the hunt for a replacement and a number of goalkeepers have been linked.
Sergio Romero, Emiliano Martinez and Angus Gunn are some of the names who’ve been linked with Leeds but a new one has recently surfaced – and we doubt many Leeds fans will have heard of him.
In mid-July, Hay wrote on The Athletic’s website that Bielsa had used one of his own “external employees”, who are not paid by Leeds United, to scout a goalkeeper in Austria who had been playing pretty much at centre-back when his team were in possession.
Now, The Athletic’s Sam Lee has identified that goalkeeper as SV Reid’s Johannes Kreidl.
Are we looking at Leeds’ new number one here?
Meslier played okay for Leeds when he filled in for Casilla but the 20-year-old Frenchman is young and inexperienced.
Kreidl, 24, is only four years Meslier’s senior but has 57 appearances to his name as Austrian second-tier side Reid and 24 appearances in the Finnish top-flight at former club Kuopion Palloseura.
Of course, these aren’t household names and Leeds fans are bound to be sceptical if the club signs a goalkeeper from the Austrian second-tier.
But the stats do suggest he could be what Bielsa’s looking for as he’s clearly a fan of goalkeepers who are good with the ball at their feet.
Stats by WyScout show that Kreidl completed 97.6 per cent of his short passes in all competitions this season. His heatmap also shows that he plays on the edge of his penalty area quite a lot.
In the last season, Kreidl also made 2.75 saves per game – 40 per cent of them classed as ‘reflex’ saves – and had an xCG of 1.3.
In comparison, Casilla completed 97.4 per cent of the short passes he attempted, made 2.1 saves per game – 39.8 per cent reflex saves – and had an xCG of 0.85, which is likely to be due to the solid defence in front of him rather than his own abilities.
Kreidl’s numbers are impressive and as he’s nine years younger than Casilla and is more experienced than Meslier, could he be the new number one for Leeds in the Premier League?
Bielsa’s keen enough to reportedly send one of his own staff members all the way to Austria to watch him.
It seems that this could be a bargain if United do strike a deal for the Austrian shot-stopper.
In other Leeds United news, Bielsa’s asked the Leeds hierarchy to sign this “key” target.