Illan Meslier, a French rookie, has become a regular in Leeds’ Premier League. It is something that his family and friends can’t believe.
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Illan Meslier stars in FIFA 22 in his own version. He plays for Leeds in the Premier League.
Meslier’s family and friends back in Brittany can’t believe he plays against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne every week in the Premier League.
He will be facing Harry Kane, the France Under-21 goalkeeper. “Sometimes when I say I played against this player they say, ‘wow, that is crazy and unbelievable!’.
“For them, it’s like that only happens on FIFA and video games. They can’t imagine what I live.
“Honestly, it’s not every player that can live like I live actually. For them it’s like a dream. For me it is the reality.”
Meslier’s friends and family are gobsmacked because his rise has been so meteoric.
He was an unknown rookie when he arrived at Leeds in August 2019 on loan from Leeds.
Meslier, 21, made his league debut at 19 in February 2020 and kept eight clean sheets in 10 Championship games to become Leeds’ No 1 as Marcelo Bielsa’s side stormed to the title.
“I came here at 19 years old,”He stated. “Of course, to come to another country is never easy. I didn’t speak English, but sometimes you have to go out of your comfort zone.
“I arrived here when we were in the Championship and then went up to the Premier League.
“I am starting, so I am happy. I keep working hard all the time and the opportunity arrived at a good moment.”
While Kalvin Phillips, Patrick Bamford and Raphinha receive much of the praise for Leeds’ success under Bielsa, Meslier has largely gone unnoticed outside of Elland Road.
Yet his shut-out against Manchester United in April saw him break Joe Hart’s record as the youngest goalkeeper to keep 10 clean sheets in the Premier League at 21 years and 54 days.
Luke Ayling claims Meslier, who cost just £5.8million, has the potential to become the best goalkeeper in the world and he admits that is his goal.
“Of course!”He said. “If not, then I should not be here. If that wasn’t my target, I would play in a lower division.
“I want to be the best. For myself, since I was younger, that has been my target.
“Marcelo Bielsa gave me my opportunity and it’s amazing to keep playing. So, of course, I want to be the best and I work very hard every day to try and achieve this target.”
Being French, Meslier obviously tries to learn from Les Bleus’ No 1 Hugo Lloris, but says Germany’s Manuel Neuer is his biggest role model.
“I saw Hugo Lloris when he came to Tottenham from Lyon,”He stated. “I remember Peter Cech too and Edwin van der Saar a bit.
“My model, though, was more Manuel Neuer. He’s more one of my examples. I like to watch the goalkeepers, watch their quality and then try and do the same, to make my own version of a goalkeeper.”