By Craig Scott

26th Sep, 2022 | 7:30am

Phil Hay: Jesse Marsch challenges Illan Meslier at Thorp Arch with big things expected of Leeds United goalkeeper

Jesse Marsch is pushing Illan Meslier hard at Thorp Arch to show that the Leeds United starlet is ” one of the best keepers of his generation”, according to Phil Hay.

Meslier, 22, already has over 100 senior appearances in his career despite his age with 95 of them coming since he joined Leeds from Lorient in 2019 on an initial loan that was soon turned into a permanent deal.

He’s emerged as one of the best young goalkeepers in world football while at Elland Road, especially since becoming the Whites’ number one in the Premier League.

And The Athletic journalist Hay has revealed just how much Marsch is trying to bring the best out of the France Under-21 international in training sessions.

“New head coach Jesse Marsch’s switch from man-marking, the system favoured by predecessor Marcelo Bielsa, has required the club’s keepers to change their thinking with it. Marsch is said to regularly challenge Meslier to demonstrate why he has the scope to be one of the best keepers of his generation,” said Hay on The Athletic website on 26 September.

“To prove that in France’s national team, he will need to be patient.

“The glimmer for him is that injury to Maignan, which will keep him out for at least three weeks — not far off the opening games of the World Cup in the third week of November. But even with Maignan joining Lloris in being out of the full squad, Meslier was left with the under-21s.

“This could have been the moment when the door first opened but Leeds are sure that the call will come before long, vindicating what they tell him continuously: that he arrived in England as a French goalkeeper but, with the right dedication and graft, he could make himself the French goalkeeper.”

Keep pushing

Meslier has shown an improvement this season.

In his first two years as Leeds’ number one goalkeeper, the Frenchman’s performances were littered with mistakes.

He developed an unwanted knack of stepping back into his own goal and conceding even though he’d managed to block the ball. He’d have just been behind the line.

Meslier did that a lot at corners at other set-pieces but he’s shown an improvement in that regard now. You cannot really say that any of the goals Leeds have conceded this season have been solely the fault of the former Lorient goalkeeper.

Meslier has a big future ahead of him.

Not many 22-year-old goalkeepers have over 100 senior appearances to their name, especially when the bulk of them have come in the Premier League with one of the biggest clubs in England.

Meslier’s sights will no doubt be on the France number one spot in years to come while on the short-term, injuries to other French goalkeepers could see him in the reckoning for the World Cup in Qatar this winter.

In other Leeds United news, a Leeds-linked left-back will “absolutely” be sold in the January transfer window.