Illan Meslier addresses Leeds United's missing jigsaw pieces and Premier League target

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Illan Meslier is already heading into his third season as Leeds’ No. 1 goalkeeper

Illan Meslier says Leeds United's puzzle was missing some pieces last season but believes it will soon be complete.

After a summer that included France Under 21 action and a safari trip, Meslier has returned to a squad that looks quite different to the one he left in May.

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After staying up on the last day of the season Leeds busied themselves in the transfer market, safe in the knowledge that they would bring in around £100m from the likely sales of Kalvin Phillips and Raphinha.

Illan Meslier is setting targets for the new season (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)Illan Meslier is setting targets for the new season (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
Illan Meslier is setting targets for the new season (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)

Phillips' move to Manchester City and Raphinha's imminent arrival at Barcelona have permitted Victor Orta to bring in six new faces for Jesse Marsch's squad already, with a striker and potentially a left-back still to come.

In terms of senior additions the Whites have welcomed Brenden Aaronson, Rasmus Kristensen, Marc Roca, Tyler Adams and Luis Sinisterra, with 18-year-old Darko Gyabi expected to fight for a place in the senior squad this season.

Meslier is quite content to fight again himself in the upcoming campaign, but he's in no mood for another relegation scrap.

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"My holidays were very good, I had a good time with my family and friends, a good trip but I’m pleased to be back," he said, from Leeds' pre-season tour of Australia.

"Everyone has arrived with a good mentality, we are ready to make a great season because we don’t want to play and fight for the relegation. It was a difficult season. Everyone arrived with a good mentality and we are ready to fight."

Meslier was rested for last Thursday's Queensland Champions Cup win over Brisbane Roar but was involved against Aston Villa and is due to face Crystal Palace according to head coach Jesse Marsch.

The pre-season friendlies have thus far allowed Marsch to introduce his new senior additions to the fanbase and Meslier is delighted to have reinforcements in place.

They were needed, he says.

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"It’s good to have some new players, of course we have already had Kalvin leaving, but they are good players to complete the team," he said.

"It’s good to see some new faces in the club and in the changing room.

"Now we are a bigger roster, it’s better, we have good players and everyone has arrived with a fresh mentality after holidays and to come here is good for us and the club. It’s different than last season."

Everyone at Leeds is convinced that there is the sense of a fresh start around the squad and Meslier is no different.

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What hasn't changed, in his eyes, is the head coach or his methods, simply the tools with which he can do the job.

"I think he is the same but now he has a pre-season to prepare, last season he arrived and we were in a difficult moment," said the keeper.

"I don’t think he has changed anything but he has his players, good players, who have arrived. I think the puzzle was missing some pieces but now it will be complete soon."

Meslier is heading into his fourth season at Leeds United, having initially joined on a season-long loan from Lorient in 2019 and made the move permanently a year later.

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He became the club's first choice goalkeeper during Kiko Casilla's eight-game racism ban, helping the Whites to clinch promotion, and has retained his place between the posts ever since.

His goal, this season, is to improve again in order to enjoy life at Leeds more than he did last time out.

"For this moment it's just to work on myself and after I will see the result of the team," he said.

"I want to be better than last season, I want to concede a lot less goals and if I can help the team try to be the best possible this is my job, but I want to be the best."

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