Big-name Leeds Utd star shuts down Tottenham, Chelsea transfer links with significant pledge over future
A player at the heart of Leeds United’s bid to retain their Premier League status has made clear his wish to remain at Elland Road over the long term amid reports linking him to both Chelsea and Tottenham.
Jesse Marsch’s side have won just four times in 19 Premier League games so far this season and seemingly face another battle for survival. After only staying up on the final day of last season, Leeds will be hoping to avoid such a nervy finish this time around.
To further their chances, Leeds have quickly addressed their squad shortfalls with two signings this month. Indeed, Maximilian Wober has already made an impact in defence; Leeds are yet to concede a goal in the 201 minutes he has been on the field.
And club-record signing Georginio Rutter will also hope to soon get among the goals following his move from Hoffenheim.
Leeds are also hoping to strengthen their midfield options too. Mateusz Klich’s exit to DC United leaves Leeds with a hole to fill. As a result, the Whites are continuing their push to bring in Weston McKennie. Saturday’s Transfer Gossip provides the latest on that front.
One man central to their plans since promotion and indeed going forward, is goalkeeper Illan Meslier.
The French stopper has been virtually an ever-present since Leeds’ promotion to the Premier League.
Despite his tender years for a goalkeeper – he is still only 22 – Meslier has now clocked up 109 appearances for Leeds.
Seen as a safe pair of hands, many regard the keeper as the long-term heir to Hugo Lloris in the France goal.
Such has been his form, though, that Meslier has attracted plenty of admiring glances.
Meslier makes firm commitment on Leeds future
And he has seen the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham both reportedly taking a strong interest in acquiring his services.
The Blues are likely to seek a replacement for Edouard Mendy this summer, while doubts are also emerging over Kepa.
Tottenham, meanwhile, are looking to replace long-serving Lloris. And a TEAMtalk exclusive earlier this season revealed Meslier is one of three Premier League options they are strongly considering.
Despite the reported interest in signing him, Meslier appears extremely content at Leeds. He has revealed his satisfaction with life at Elland Road and appears in no hurry to move on.
When asked if he regrets moving to Leeds by L’Equipe, Meslier had a firm answer.
“At the time, no. But the fact of no longer being No 1 at Lorient, I was hurt deep inside. England, I always wanted to go there. Leeds is a club that is known around the world.
“Yes, it could have taken another turn, if there had not been this suspension of Kiko Casilla, maybe that I wouldn’t have made a match in the season, and then what do we do? I had favourable circumstances.”
Meslier admits that regular football at Leeds has made him the goalkeeper he is today.
“For my first Championship match, at Hull City, it was a quagmire (laughs), it was English football as we perceive it, with duels, intensity,” Meslier added.
“It makes me who I am today. I make a lot more saves, I am more decisive. In the aerial duel, I am no longer the same either. Maturity, body language, communication with my teammates, everything has changed. In one-on-one, I scare the attackers more.”
Keeper happy at Elland Road
Asked about both his progress at Leeds and whether he could be tempted away, Meslier made clear his thoughts.
“It’s beyond my expectations. When you start at Lorient in Ligue 2, you never imagine yourself going up to the Premier League and continuing. I am proud to have broken these precocious records.”
On talk he may look to move on, he added: “No, it could potentially go through an even bigger development of our team.”
Meslier remains something of an unknown quantity in France and L’Equipe asked him if that bothers him.
Indeed, he may need more positive performances if he is secure promotion from France U21 into their senior squad.
“At first, it didn’t bother me, I hadn’t proven anything yet. I was trying to earn my place as No 1. Now, yes, I would like people to recognise my value, my level and know me a little more because I passed the step,” Meslier stressed.
“But it’s up to me to open up so that they know me. I understand them too, I left Ligue 2 young. When you leave at 19, even in Bielsa’s Leeds, it’s normal that people aren’t too interested.”
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