Leeds United hope to move quickly to replace Kiko Casilla, Victor Orta working on deal for young keeper with first team experience

Leeds United hope to move quickly to replace Kiko Casilla with a young goalkeeper who can back up and compete with Illan Meslier.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 11:35 am
Updated Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 11:36 am
NUMBER ONE - Leeds United's first choice keeper Illan Meslier saw off the challenge of former Real Madrid man Kiko Casilla and the Whites want to add another young goalkeeper to the ranks. Pic: Getty
NUMBER ONE - Leeds United's first choice keeper Illan Meslier saw off the challenge of former Real Madrid man Kiko Casilla and the Whites want to add another young goalkeeper to the ranks. Pic: Getty

Former Real Madrid man Casilla has gone back to Spain to spend the 2021/22 season on loan at La Liga side Elche. He spent the summer at home with his family and was unable to return for the start of pre-season due to an isolation period related to Covid-19, but was in Leeds yesterday to sign the paperwork for his loan.

Although two years remain on his contract the likelihood is that Casilla has played his last game for Leeds and will either move on permanently next summer or secure another season-long loan deal either at Elche, depending on whether or not they retain their La Liga status, or elsewhere.

In his place, director of football Victor Orta hopes to secure a signing that would be reminiscent of the deal to bring Meslier to Leeds from FC Lorient in 2019.

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Having focused on a pair of young targets, one domestic and one operating abroad, Orta is today speaking with the latter player and his representatives. The YEP understands the stopper in question, Orta's top target for the vacancy, was identified at the same time as Meslier by the club's European recruitment chief Gaby Ruiz and has since gone on to play more first team football.

Leeds hope to complete the deal before their pre-season fixtures begin, but in the meantime Meslier is training at Thorp Arch with 18-year-old prospect Dani van den Heuvel and Elia Caprile, who turns 20 next month.

Meslier's time at Leeds has been a resounding success so far. He first joined on a loan deal, with a view to that becoming a permanent deal, and was thrown into the Championship promotion race aged 19 when Casilla was handed an eight-game ban for racism by the FA.

An impressive run of performances saw Meslier become Marcelo Bielsa's first choice keeper and, after signing permanently for the club last summer, he started 35 of the Whites' 38 Premier League games in their top flight return. He set records along the way, becoming the youngest goalkeeper in Premier League history to record 11 clean sheets and making the most Premier League starts in a single season by a stopper under the age of 21.

Eight days after his club season ended he made his France Under 21 breakthrough, getting a debut in the Under 21 European Championships quarter-final defeat by the Netherlands.

Orta is continuing to work on a deal for a midfielder, having narrowed his search and made one player in particular his priority, although nothing is imminent just yet. There still remains a possibility of a winger being added to the squad this summer as well.

When it comes to players leaving the club, Jordan Stevens has attracted the interest of a number of clubs and appears likely to depart the club permanently this summer, while Blackpool have joined the list of clubs monitoring Niall Huggins. The Seasiders have already captured Leeds academy graduate Oliver Casey in this transfer window on a free transfer.

A decision does not yet seem to have been taken on the future of Robbie Gotts, who spent last season out on loan with Lincoln City and Salford City.