Graham Smyth explains reason behind Leeds United transfer as deal close

Jesse Marsch is said to be closing in on a deal to add another new face to his squad.

Friday, 5th August 2022, 6:30 pm
Updated Friday, 5th August 2022, 6:31 pm

Graham Smyth believes Leeds United’s bid to add an experienced goalkeeper to their squad will ‘provide a bit of reassurance’ for manager Jesse Marsch as a deal for Joel Robles moves closer.

Highly-rated France Under-21 international Illan Meslier has cemented his place as the Whites number one after impressing since he moved to Elland Road in a £5.85million move from Lorient just over two years ago.

But the departures of Kiko Casilla and youngster Elia Caprile and the serious injury suffered by Under-21s’ stopper Dani van den Heuvel has depleted Marsch’s goalkeeping options during the summer months.

Norway international Kristoffer Klaesson made his Premier League debut last season when he replaced the injured Meslier during the dramatic 3-2 win at Wolverhampton Wanderers in March.

But he remains the only backup option for Meslier ahead of the new season and YEP chief football writer Graham Smyth believes the time is right to add competition for Klaesson and a more experienced backup for Meslier.

Speaking on the latest episode of the Inside Elland Road podcast, he said: “An experienced backup just makes sense, it’s just a sensible insurance policy.

“Klaesson, when he came in against Wolves last season, he made a couple of great saves, he arguably looked far better in that Premier League cameo than he had in Premier League 2 football, where his adaptation period was still ongoing towards the end of the season.

“There is also the point to be made that he wasn’t as well protected as he could have been, maybe wasn’t as protected as Meslier was when he played in the 23s.

“But Klaesson just didn’t give off the vibe of a player ready to jump straight in if the number one goalkeeper wasn’t available.

“So in terms of pushing Illan, in terms of providing a bit of reassurance if the keeper picks up a problem, I think an experienced number two just makes sense and that’s what we are expecting next week.”

Spanish goalkeeper Joel Robles is close to joining Marsch’s squad after his four-year stay at La Liga club Real Betis came to an end earlier this summer.

The 32-year-old comes with Premier League experience after spending time with both Wigan Athletic and Everton making 51 appearances over his spells with both clubs.

The YEP’s Leeds United journalist Joe Donnohue believes adding ‘a little bit more experience’ to the goalkeeping ranks will be ‘a prudent move’ for Whites boss Marsch.

PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JULY 22: Illan Meslier of Leeds United acknowledges the crowd during the Pre-Season friendly match between Leeds United and Crystal Palace at Optus Stadium on July 22, 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

He explained: “Adding any number two, it doesn’t even matter if it’s an experienced player, adding another goalkeeper is a sensible move.

“It’s probably quite necessary given Kiko Casilla and Elia Caprile have both left the club, Dani van den Heuvel is unavailable for the foreseeable future.

“That leaves Meslier and Klaesson, who has that slight ankle injury, or a slight ankle knock that Marsch alluded to.

“That probably won’t keep him out of the squad and then you have Harry Christie, who went on tour of Australia, so it’s not exactly looking as deep a position as it has in previous seasons.

“So bringing somebody in with a little bit more experience is probably a prudent move, to use a phrase used by Marsch in his presser today.”

You can listen to the entire episode here.