So by the sounds of it, he’s finally going to get his chance.
Admittedly, it probably would have been better if it came about in less gloomy circumstances, but there’s only so much you can control.
With Casilla’s punishment for his alleged racism due to come through any day now (in fact it was meant to come yesterday), Marcelo Bielsa has been making plans to replace him in goal, if indeed the Spaniard ends up being suspended, with Frenchman Illan Meslier the obvious candidate. And peaking in his press conference yesterday, Bielsa claimed that Meslier was “at the level expected”.
However, the whole saga has taken a new twist. According to a report from Ouest-France, there was a clause inserted into the loan agreement that states Leeds are obliged to pay his parent club FC Lorient a fee of around €6m if the club either seals promotion to the Premier League, or if he makes more than 10 first-team appearances.
In my mind, this is going to be a key turning point in the career of Meslier at Elland Road, because if the ban is either long enough to cover the ten games, or if his form is so good that Leeds go on a winning run with him in goal to help us seal promotion, then his future in regards to where he’ll be next season is more or less set.
And that is going to start a very interesting battle for the number one spot when it comes to the summer. Because based on Bielsa’s past comments about keeping faith with Casilla despite his numerous errors on the pitch, it doesn’t look like he’s going to let him give up the fight for the starting goalkeeper’s role.
So if Meslier does get his run in the first-team, he is going to have to give everything he’s got if he’s to stand any chance of dislodging Casilla on a permanent basis. In fact, you can make the argument that it is going to have to be totally flawless because Bielsa will be looking for any excuse to make sure that the Spaniard keeps hold of his starting job when and if he comes back from his suspension.
Will Meslier be our starting goalkeeper next year?
But if Bielsa continues to be as stubborn over this matter as he has so far, then it might end up being a fruitless battle for him.