In a wide-ranging interview with L’Equipe, Leeds United’s French goalkeeper Illan Meslier (22) opened up about his desire to don the legendary blue jersey of the France national team.
The former Lorient shot-stopper has never been called up by Les Bleus boss Didier Deschamps. However, the international retirements of Tottenham skipper Hugo Lloris and Stade Rennais’ last line of defense Steve Mandanda will shuffle the French keepers’ deck with AC Milan’s Mike Maignan expected to become France’s new number one.
Asked if he could see himself summoned for international duty, Meslier responded, “The level of performance I’m displaying now could allow me to be called up. I’ve gained experience with France’s youth national teams and in the Premier League.” The Leeds keeper will compete for a France spot with the likes of Maignan, FC Nantes’ Alban Lafont, Lens’ Brice Samba and West Ham’s Alphonse Areola. “They are very good goalkeepers. I hope I’ll be part of the conversation.“
Meslier also recalled his decision to leave Lorient, when he was only 19, for then Championship side Leeds for a loan with a mandatory purchase clause. The Lorient-born man states that he always wished to play in England. “My first Championship game was at Hull City, on a quagmire of a pitch. It was proper English football, with duels and intensity galore. I was straight in the thick of it. It made me the keeper I am today.“
The U21 France international adds that he felt Leeds were the “ultimate team” with Argentine boss Marcelo Bielsa at the helm. “With Jesse (Marsch), our play is more defence-driven. We rely a lot on counter-press and fast counter-attacks”, explains Meslier. The Peacocks’ keeper is tied to a contract with the Premier League’s fifteenth-placed side until 2026.
GFFN | Bastien Cheval