Leeds United face a summer battle to retain the services of one of their star names amid claims the player has had his head turned by transfer interest from Chelsea.
The Whites are once again embroiled in a ferocious battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League. Currently 16th, the Whites hold a two-point buffer on those sides down in the relegation places.
Leeds managed to avoid the drop last season after a dramatic final-day escape at Brentford. That 2-1 win, coupled with a defeat for Burnley, meant it was the Clarets who slipped through the relegation trapdoor.
This time around, though, there are as many as nine sides involved in the scrap for safety. And Leeds’ hopes have taken a blow with two defeats in their last three games, with their goal difference taking a significant hit in the process.
Leeds have now leaked 54 goals this season – a tally only better than Bournemouth (67).
However, even if the Whites are successful in their bid to avoid the drop, it seems one of their stars in Illan Meslier has already decided to leave.
That’s according to Football Insider, who report that the Frenchman is keen to take his career to the next level this summer.
Meslier was an initial loan signing from FC Lorient back in summer 2019, making the move a permanent £5m deal the following summer.
Now established as Leeds’ No 1, he recently became the youngest goalkeeper to reach 100 Premier League appearances in the competition’s history.
Chelsea keen to sign Illan Meslier
As a result, his form between the sticks has alerted a string of admirers.
Tottenham and Barcelona are among those seemingly keen. However, Football Insider reports that Chelsea are the side most keen to get a deal over the line.
The Blues are looking for cover and competition for Kepa next season, with Eduoard Mendy likely to be sold.
And they are reportedly making the France U21 man their top choice, with Leeds responding by placing a £40m price on his head.
However, the figure is unlikely to deter Chelsea co-owner Todd Boehly, who has shown money to be no object in pursuit of his top targets.
Now it seems Meslier has had his head turned and is seeking the move, if Football Insider are accurate.
His deal at Leeds is due to run until 2026, having signed an extension last season.’
But he recently went public with his wish to test himself at a higher level.
“It would be a mistake to project oneself so far. There are many steps before that: a continuation to be sought with Leeds, the Euro Espoirs [U21 championship] in June,” Meslier told Ouest France.
“To succeed in all of this, I have to be good. Because no one will come looking for me if I am not. And if I am asked, I will take the time to think about my future with a clear head.”
Leeds look to Spain for Meslier replacement
With Meslier seemingly looking to move on this summer, Victor Orta is reportedly considering a number of successors in goal.
And reports earlier this week suggested the name at the top of his wishlist is Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bounou.
The Moroccan goalkeeper enjoyed an outstanding World Cup, helping the north African nation reach the semi-finals.
However, while regarded as one of LaLiga’s best goalkeepers, he has suffered something of a fall from grace with the Andalusian club.
And after a series of patchy displays, he has now been usurped by Marko Dmitrovic in goal.
Discontent with his place on their bench, the keeper is now determined to push through an exit request.
And that may well present an opening for Leeds to pounce for the 32-year-old star, known more commonly as Bono.
Bono’s deal at Sevilla is due to expire in summer 2024. As a result, the LaLiga side would not demand too high a fee for the keeper.
Their prospects of a deal, however, lie entirely on the club’s ability to retain their Premier League status.