Leeds to follow Bielsa boost with important deal, as talks at ‘advanced’ stage

Illan Meslier and Luke Ayling celebrate Leeds United win in December 2020

Leeds United are in “advanced talks” to extend the contract of first-choice goalkeeper Illan Meslier, according to a respected reporter.

Meslier enjoyed a fine first season in the Premier League in 2020-21, which was his second campaign with Leeds. The young goalkeeper played in 35 top-flight games and was a significant contributor towards their top-half finish. Now, he is preparing for a season of consolidation.

Kristoffer Klaesson has arrived to provide more competition for him in goal. However, Meslier remains first choice – and Leeds are about to make their faith in him clear.

According to The Athletic‘s Leeds expert Phil Hay, Meslier is in advanced talks over a new contract. His current deal expires in 2023, but Leeds are ready to tie him down longer-term.

Meslier cost Leeds just £5m last summer when they made his loan deal from Lorient permanent. He has justified his minimal value and will now earn an increase in wages to recognise his performance levels.

It is believed that Meslier’s current terms are only worth £16,500 per week. It is a small figure for a regular Premier League footballer.

His agent had sent a gentle reminder to Leeds over his contract when name-checking Paris Saint-Germain as an interested party back in June. But he admitted that staying with Leeds to play every week was the best course of action all along.

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Leeds are now closing in on sending a definitive statement about the 21-year-old, who can continue to occupy the space between the sticks for years to come.

It is not yet clear when Meslier might sign his new deal. But it would come as another timely boost for Leeds after they confirmed the retention of inspirational coach Marcelo Bielsa for another season.

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It always seemed a formality that Bielsa would enter a fourth season in the Elland Road dugout. Indeed, he has been overseeing pre-season while technically not under contract.

But the official announcement came on Thursday that he has committed for the 2021-22 season.

Bielsa calls Leeds ‘extraordinary’

In his pre-match press conference ahead of Leeds’ season opener against Man Utd, at which time his new contract was not yet official, Bielsa confirmed his stay. He went on to explain why he is so happy at the club.

“From my point of view this is an extraordinary club,” Bielsa said.

“It’s not often you have a club who designates so much volume of investment to the improvement of the training.

“In this sense, Leeds have made a significant contribution economically for the tools for a manager to prepare his players to be the ideal ones.

“Everything that we need in this area, the club has resolved it with a very high investment.

“Whether that be the pitches, the facilities, the technology, commodities for the work of the players and in this sense, I am very astounded by the conduct of the club.

“I think the most important coaches that world football has would value what this club means in terms of organisation, structure and the public.”

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