The majority of Leeds United fans got their first glimpse of 20-year-old Illan Meslier in the FA Cup game against Arsenal.
And, after watching him ping passes about effortlessly, many were convinced he should have stepped up and taken the gloves from Kiko Casilla there and then.
In the end, it took Casilla getting an eight-game ban from the FA for Meslier to make the step up into the Championship.
He’s not been tested much since, thanks to his outfield teammates being on top form, and hasn’t let a goal in across the two starts he’s made.
However, his distribution has looked a bit shaky and that’s come as a surprise to us.
We’ve watched him a lot in the Under-23s and that’s generally one of the best bits of his game.
Playing in the Championship was always going to present a different sort of test for Meslier and some nerves are understandable.
But distribution is what makes Meslier such an exciting young talent and why he should fit into a Bielsa side so well.
We’ve looked back at the game against Arsenal to show why he’s set to be a top goalkeeper – hopefully in the Premier League with Leeds next season.
Incredibly, Meslier recorded a 100% pass accuracy against Arsenal with 9/9 long passes and 18/18 short passes completed. [WyScout]
Arsenal pressed Leeds and didn’t give them much time on the ball. That meant it was crucial the Leeds players could trust Meslier, despite it being his senior debut.
They obviously did and used him a lot. Here there are three Arsenal players pressing and the ball goes back to Meslier.
He takes a quick look up and pings an incredible long ball to Jack Harrison. Any keeper in the world would have been happy with this.
It drops over the head of an Arsenal player and straight onto Harrison’s foot in the opposition half. This was his best pass of the night but it wasn’t the only one that was impressive.
This next one showed how clam he can be under pressure. This time Meslier had no time to take a touch but showed great awareness to look up and ping a perfect first-time ball out to the right.
Again, it landed over the Arsenal player’s head and set up another Leeds attack. Many other keepers would have just played a blind long ball to clear given the pressure.
We’re fully expecting Meslier to show this range of passing and composure on the ball in the res of the Championship fixtures.
He’s still got an unbeaten record in the league and we think that Meslier’s rise is going to signal the end of the line for Casilla.
Casilla is one of the highest-paid players at the club and with the financial uncertainty at the club at the moment we think Leeds will be looking to unload the former Real Madrid man in the summer.
In Meslier, Leeds have a more than capable number one and with an option reported to be £5m, the club will be landing a real bargain.
Football Insider has said this could be completed as early as mid-May and that would be a huge boost for Leeds in these uncertain times.
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