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Player Analysis: Illan Meslier

Illan Meslier – Who Is He? 

  • Name – Illan Meslier 
  • Age – 03/02/2000 (21 years old)
  • Rookie Season/ Team – 2017 / Lorient II 
  • Nationality – French 
  • International Caps (Goals) – 0 (0)
  • Position – Goalkeeper
  • Current Team / League – Leeds United / English Premier League 

Meslier – Career Overview 

Illan Meslier has played football since he was six years old, joining his local club Merlevenez before an impressive showing against Lorient saw him snapped up as part of their academy. He signed his first professional contract in 2018 and has been the object of interest from world-football heavyweights, including Monaco and Chelsea since he was 18. 

Meslier’s professional debut for Lorient’s first-team in the Coupe de la Ligue where they played  Valenciennes FC. He kept clean sheets in his first five games as he became Lorient’s number one while they were in Ligue 2 during the 2018/19 season. 

During this season, Meslier played 28 league games and kept nine clean sheets, conceding 32 goals along the way. This form nearly helped Lorient reach the play-offs for a chance to play in Ligue 1, but they finished sixth, coming behind RC Lens on goal difference. 

To gain experience and prepare him for the top level, Meslier joined Championship side Leeds United on loan in their bid to win promotion to the Premier League Play-Off Final heartbreak at the hands of Aston Villa the year before. 

He made his Leeds debut in the FA Cup third-round tie against Arsenal, which the Gunners won 1-0, although Meslier was praised for his good performance. Although not a starter initially, competing with Kamil Miazek for a bench position with Kiko Casilla the starting keeper, Meslier finished the season as Leeds’ starting goalkeeper, playing ten games in the run up to winning the league and conceding just four times. 

His Season So Far 

In July 2020, Meslier made his loan move permanent signing a three-year deal. Meslier began Leeds’ first Premier League campaign in 16 years as he finished the title-winning season. He started the first game in a 4-3 thriller against Champions Liverpool and continued from there. He conceded seven goals in the first two games, with Leeds beating fellow newcomers Fulham 4-3, and his first clean sheet came in the next game during a 1-0 win over Sheffield United. 

Bielsa’s tactics means goals are always expected at both ends in Leeds games, but Meslier prevented the scoreline getting too high as they established themselves early as a thrilling team that should finish mid table. Over the next five games, Meslier conceded ten goals, although this included two 4-1 losses to Leicester City and Crystal Palace. Leeds did, however, keep Manchester City at bay in a 1-1 draw, and would end up taking four points off the Champions-elect overall, winning 2-1 at the Etihad with a late winner from Stuart Dallas (getting his second goal of the game) following a Ferran Torres equalizer in the 76th minute.  

Meslier has played all but one of Leeds’ league games this season, missing the 1-0 defeat to Brighton in January. He has conceded 48 goals in 30 games and has kept nine clean sheets, including games against Arsenal and Everton. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X00aYcEvn_M

How Do Illan Meslier’s Stats Look?

Goalkeeper stats are a little different from our usual analysis, but they can still tell a story. With nine clean sheets in 30 games this season, Meslier has a ratio of 0.31 clean sheets per game. If you take his goals conceded, he has conceded 1.6 goals every game, which is not a bad effort for a 21-year-old keeper that has just been promoted. 

Meslier has also made 121 saves, which includes one penalty save, which gives a 73.5% save percentage from shots on target. He is responsible for one own goal and two errors leading to a goal. Errors are never ideal for any player, but you can forgive these stats considering his age. 

Why Has His Value Increased? 

Like defenders, goalkeepers are not in as high demand unless they fall into the legendary category. But, Meslier has impressed more fans and collectors than expected this year, and for a certain type of collector, whether Leeds fan, France follower, or someone who loves the art of goalkeeping, there’s a chance his value has increased. 

  • Overachieving and holding his own in the newly promoted Leeds side
  • Looks more mature between the sticks than his age suggests
  • Increased interest in soccer card
  • Increased interest in promising rookies 

Predictions for the Future 

  • Consistency: Meslier has not made many mistakes, and he has performed well throughout the season, even in defeat. As he gains experience, this consistency will improve.
  • Form: Meslier has shown decent form. He is a very talented keeper for his age, and he should only get better with more top-flight experience.
  • Club Form: Leeds have performed well in places this season, although their gung-ho approach means Meslier risks being exposed, although 14 wins in their first season back is nothing to sniff at.
  • Honors: Meslier is more likely to win individual honors, such as Young Player of the Year, at the moment, but should Leeds establish themselves in the EPL and build their squad, team honors could come sooner rather than later to build on their Championship victory last season. 
  • International Performance: Meslier is yet to make his senior international debut but has been called up for the Under-21 squad. His time is yet to come, but at just 21, there’s a possibility he will establish himself as France’s Number One within the next five years. 

Illan Meslier Summary 

Meslier is the youngest starting goalkeeper in the league, and he has been integral to Leeds more than holding their own this season. Typically, goalkeepers don’t reach their peak until their mid-to-late 20s, so he has plenty of time to become one of the best in the world.

He is likely to remain at Leeds for the foreseeable future, but if he continues to impress, bigger teams, whether in England, France, or elsewhere, could come calling. Time will only tell, but he has made quite the impression this season. 

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