Impressive young Leeds keeper Illan Meslier rejected the chance to sign for Chelsea back in summer 2018, his agent has revealed.
Meslier has shown excellent maturity as the Whites‘ number one goalkeeper at the young age of 21. In fact, he only celebrated his birthday on Tuesday, making his recent first-team rise all the more applaudable.
Indeed, he is the first goalkeeper in Premier League history to keep eight clean sheets before his 21st birthday. The young Frenchman joined Leeds on an initial loan from Lorient, before making the move permanent last summer. Leeds will unlikely spend a more shrewd €5m.
Such has been his progress, that his agent believes he’s already catching the attention of several big hitters.
However, it could have been a very different career path for Meslier with his agent explaining why an approach from Chelsea was rejected back in 2018.
As revealed by his agent, Xavier Fluery, Chelsea’s plan for Meslier was to sign him and loan him out. However, that was deemed not to be in his best interests at the time.
“Both me and Illan believed that there was a greater chance of Illan playing in the first team at Lorient than at either Monaco or Chelsea,” Xavier Fleury told the LUFCFANZONE podcast. “We knew there was a lot of interest but both Monaco and Chelsea wanted Illan for the future.
“For example, although the talks never reached a concrete stage, Chelsea wanted to buy Illan and send him on loan for a number of years.
“Because of this, we thought it wasn’t a good idea because Illan needed to settle at a club and play. This would not have been the case.
“As a goalkeeper, you need to be number one. If you’re not then you can sit on the bench for years.
“To leave for Chelsea or Monaco for more money, but to not play first-team football and to be away from his family was not a good offer for Illan. At the time, he had regular first-team football in his path at Lorient.
“For sure there are some big clubs that are interested and following Illan, but right now he is in Leeds.”
Meslier loves Leeds
Fleury is adamant despite the growing interest in his client, Meslier is more than happy at Leeds.
“He is starting, and that is the bottom line – the most we can ask for. He loves the club, and he has settled in really well,” Fleury added.
“I think if Leeds keep the sporting director, the coach, and the players keep improving year after year like they are doing, I think the president (Andrea Radrizzani) could be right. Leeds could be in the Champions League quickly.
“If Leeds are in the Champions League, I think it would be more beautiful for Illan to challenge for trophies at a club like Leeds as opposed to winning leagues at clubs like Real Madrid, Juventus, or Bayern.
“Football is all about emotion. You can say OK I’ll play for Real Madrid, Bayern, or Juventus, but it’s about achieving something that is not expected. To do that at Leeds with Bielsa would be amazing, and there is no way to think about leaving.”