‘No, it’s too late, man!’: Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier reveals how he snubbed a deadline day move to Chelsea as a teenager before joining the Whites a year later
Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier has revealed that he rejected the chance to join Chelsea just 12 months before signing for the Whites.
The France starlet, then 18, had just signed his first professional contract at French side Lorient when the Blues made an approach in July 2018.
‘Chelsea agreed with Lorient and then asked me, ‘Are you ready?’,’ Meslier told The Athletic ‘But it was 24 hours before the end of the window.
Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier has revealed that he rejected the chance to join Chelsea
‘I said, ‘No, it’s too late, man! If you’d come one or two weeks earlier then I might have said yes. I can’t sign for you so late’.
‘It was a difficult decision. Chelsea are a big club. You would ask me, ‘Why not [go]?’. But there are lots of keepers in Chelsea’s academy.
‘It’s very hard to grow up there and sometimes you sign and you have to go on loan, things like that. It’s better, I think, to work in your club and then sign to be a No 1 at 24, 25. Not at 18 years old.’
The 21-year-old goalkeeper established himself as the club’s No 1 last season
Ligue 1 rivals AS Monaco also had a bid rejected for Meslier, who made his professional debut a few months later.
The shot-stopper initially linked up with the Whites on loan in August 2019 as a backup to first-choice Kiko Casilla.
Marcelo Bielsa handed him his debut in a FA Cup tie against Arsenal in January 2020 and quickly established himself as the club’s No 1.
Meslier joined on a permanent basis for £5m in July 2020 and started in all but three of the club’s 38 league outings last season and keeping 11 clean sheets.