Leeds United goalkeeper Illan Meslier has revealed he remained at Elland Road this season because he ‘felt guilty’ about their relegation from the Premier League, according to club’s official podcast.
The 23-year-old was linked with a move away from the Yorkshire side throughout the transfer window, with Premier League giants Manchester City and Manchester United as well Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich amongst those named as potential suitors.
It was said that Leeds had accounted for his exit and that was backed up by the signing of Karl Darlow from Newcastle United, and the 32-year-old arrived in the belief that he would be the club’s first choice shotstopper this season.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding his future, Meslier started all of the Whites league fixtures prior to the end of the window. It was believed that manager Daniel Farke wanted to get the most out of his goalkeeper before his exit. However, the transfer deadline came and went and the Frenchman remained at the club.
There were varying reports throughout the summer that the former Lorient man was keen to secure a move away from Elland Road, although these claims have been dismissed by Meslier himself. Speaking to the Leeds United official podcast, via The Leeds Press, he said;
“It was difficult to leave when the club is going down, because I feel guilty inside. I played most of the games and the results weren’t good. It was not good for me to leave with the club in the second division.
“To go and play somewhere and see Leeds in the middle of the second division and think, ‘oh no’. For me, I had to stay and give my best to get Leeds in the top two places.”
Leeds have had a poor start to life in the Championship, winning just one of their opening five fixtures. However, with the uncertainty surrounding several members of the playing squad as well as transfer business complete, Farke is hoping that his team can now hit a run of form, starting on Sunday when they travel to the capital to face Millwall.
Whether Meslier is being truthful or not is up for debate, but there is likely something behind the constant links to some of Europe’s top teams. This was perhaps agent talk whilst trying to garner a move for his client, although it is believed that Manchester City rejected the opportunity to sign him.
There is no doubt that he is one of the best goalkeepers in the division and Leeds will certainly struggle to retain his services if they fail to obtain promotion this season. He will still have two years remaining on his contract by the end of the campaign, meaning Leeds will be able to command a sizeable fee should he depart, but Premier League football is the aim and Meslier should stay if that objective is met.