Despite being a regular at Lorient last season, Illan Meslier surprised many by being loaned out to Leeds United for the current season.
The young goalkeeper was brought in to act as Kiko Casilla’s backup, and he has yet to feature for the Championship side, which he doesn’t really mind.
After all, he gets to work behind a former Real Madrid goalkeeper who is performing admirably well between the sticks this season, and is learning from a very respected manager in Marcelo Bielsa.
In fact, in an interview to Goal France, the 19-year-old revealed it was the Argentine who was behind his move to Elland Road in the summer.
He said: “He was very important [in the move]. I also looked at what the club had done the year before. They weren’t far off going up. The fans, the stadium… I immediately saw a very invested club that was doing everything to get me. Leeds saw me at the U20 World Cup, but I didn’t really see [the move] coming.
“It happened really quickly. They saw immediately after the first game [with Lorient] that I wasn’t starting, and they told themselves ‘OK, let’s do this’. The transfer window was going to close. I had to make a quick decision, but I felt the need to leave, get out of my comfort zone. I wanted to discover a new challenge and Leeds was an enticing project”.
The player was then asked about Marcelo Bielsa as a person and a manager, and the first question was whether or not he was as ‘crazy’ as people say he is.
He explained: “With us, no. Sometimes he has mood swings or misunderstandings with his staff, but it’s all Argentinian, Spanish… He speaks Argentinian (South American dialect), but he’s so expressive that it’s easy to understand him, and if I don’t understand, I have Benoît Delaval who translates for me.
“We all have a big respect for Bielsa. We know what he’s done in his career, and when you see it works, players latch on straight away. We’re really there to work and we have one goal, which is to go back up to the Premier League”.
All the things you want to hear from an eager youngster, who is currently biding his time and waiting for the opportune moment to showcase his ability for the first team.
When that is, however, is entirely up to Marcelo Bielsa, who has also favoured Casilla in the EFL Cup.
Perhaps the FA Cup, then?